United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
KIMBERLY J. MAYNARD, Plaintiff,
COMMISIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
C. Smith Judge.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KIMBERLY A. JOLSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Kimberly J. Maynard, brings this action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) seeking review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”)
denying her application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”). For the reasons set forth below, it is
RECOMMENDED that the Court
REVERSE the Commissioner's
non-disability finding and REMAND this case
to the Commissioner and Administrative Law Judge under
Sentence Four of § 405(g).
filed her first application for DIB and SSI in December 2010,
which was denied by Administrative Law Judge Rita Eppler on
December 10, 2013. (Doc. 8-3, Tr. 99-117).
Eppler made the following residual functional capacity
. . . the claimant has the residual functional capacity to
perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but
with the following nonexertional limitations: she is able to
understand, remember and carry out simple routine repetitive
tasks and is able to frequently interact with supervisors,
coworkers and the public. She is limited to low stress work,
which in this case is defined as having no strict production
or time pressures.
filed another application for DIB and SSI on April 7, 2015,
alleging that she was disabled beginning December 13, 2013.
(Doc. 8, Tr. 296). After her application was denied initially
and on reconsideration, ALJ Irma Flottman (the
“ALJ”) held a hearing on August 7, 2017. (Tr.
69-97). On December 14, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision
denying Plaintiff's application for benefits. (Tr.
10-28). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request
for review, making the ALJ's decision the final decision
of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-6).
filed the instant case seeking a review of the
Commissioner's decision on August 27, 2018 (Doc. 1), and
the Commissioner filed the administrative record on November
9, 2018 (Doc. 8). Plaintiff filed her Statement of Errors
(Doc. 9), Defendant filed an Opposition (Doc. 11), and
Plaintiff filed a Reply (Doc. 12). In accordance with the
Court's directive, the parties also filed supplemental
briefs on the issue of res judicata. (See
Docs. 13, 14, 15). Thus, this matter is now ripe for
Relevant Medical Background
Statement of errors pertains to her mental health so the
Court limits its discussion of her medical records to the
4, 2012, Plaintiff underwent a psychiatric evaluation at
North Community Counseling Center. (Tr. 531-34). She reported
fighting depression for several years and described symptoms
of insomnia, fatigue, crying spells, and decreased appetite.
(Tr. 531). She also reported a history of suicidal ideation.
(Id.). Records from her mental status examination
indicate that she was well-groomed with average demeanor, eye
contact, and activity. (Tr. 532). She had clear speech and no
delusions, thoughts of self-abuse, aggression, or
hallucinations. (Id.). Her thought processes were
“circumstantial, ” and her mood was moderately
depressed, anxious and angry. (Tr. 533). She had a
“full” affect and was cooperative.
(Id.). Plaintiff was diagnosed with PTSD and
prescribed medication for her symptoms. (Id.).
continued to receive treatment at North Community Counseling
Center throughout 2012 and 2013. On September 17, 2013, she
reported a history of situational stressors, including
constant threats of violence from neighbors and having a
16-year-old son with impulse control problems. (Tr. 436). On
November 19, 2013, she reported that she was not doing well,
as she was under “incredible stress.” (Tr. 440).
She also reported that she was having trouble with her kids
and was experiencing financial difficulties. (Id.).
Further, she stated that her medication had not improved her
anxiety or sleep. (Id.).
January 29, 2014, Plaintiff again reported situational
stressors, including financial problems, demanding children,
and difficulties with sleep. (Tr. 443). However, on March 18,
2014, she reported that she was sleeping better on Ambien.
(Tr. 449). Further, she reported that family turmoil
continued, although her son's behavior had improved.
(Id.). Plaintiff did not receive treatment again
until June 27, 2014, and had been off her medications due to
missed appointments. (Tr. 452). According to exam notes, she
had a dysphoric mood, and was easily agitated and frustrated.
(Id.). She described multiple environmental
stressors, primarily financial hardships. (Id.).
17, 2014, Plaintiff reported that she was still struggling
with dysphoria, anxiety, and feeling agitated. (Tr. 455). She
stated that she experienced anxiety to the point of having
nausea. (Id.). She continued to report financial
stressors, including owing back rent. (Id.).
Plaintiff explained that she had stopped taking Latuda
because of its side effects. (Id.). Records from her
mental status examination showed her to be dysphoric,
overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, and irritable.
(Id.). She had slow, hesitant speech.
(Id.). She maintained good eye contact and exhibited
an organized thought processes but had poor insight and
judgment and indicated non-compliance with her medications.
from November 6, 2014, show that Plaintiff had not taken
Latuda for approximately four weeks because of rescheduled
appointments. (Tr. 462). She reported feeling stressed,
overwhelmed, depressed, and agitated. (Id.). She
described ongoing environmental stressors, including
financial troubles. (Id.). On November 20, 2014, she
described her mood as depressed and tearful. (Tr. 466). She
indicated recent suicidal ideation with hopeless thoughts but
had no intent or plan. (Id.). Mental status
examination records show that she was depressed, tearful,
irritable, and overwhelmed. (Id.). She displayed an
organized thought process but had poor insight and judgment.
January 22, 2015, Plaintiff reported that her mood was
improving. (Tr. 470). She described remaining hopeful about
her future. (Id.). She rated her mood a five on a
ten-point scale. (Id.). She used coping skills to
deal with ongoing environmental stressors related to
financial hardship and awaiting approval for disability
benefits. (Id.). As for her medications, she had
been taking her Latuda consistently and could see the
improvement in her mood. (Id.). Her mood was
dysphoric, but she was less tearful. (Id.) She
remained anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed. (Id.).
Exam records show that her speech was within normal limits
and that she had good eye contact. (Id.).
February 12, 2015, Plaintiff reported missing doses of
Latuda. (Tr. 474). On March 26, 2015, she reported being more
tolerant of stressful situations. (Tr. 482). She also
reported that her mood had improved overall. (Id.).
continued to receive treatment at North Community Counseling
Center in 2016. On June 15, 2016, she reported that she had
stopped taking all medications three weeks prior. (Tr. 737).
She was agitated, frustrated, anxious, and stressed.
(Id.). She reported ongoing stressors stemming from
her family, particularly issues with her daughter.
(Id.). She denied thoughts of ...