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Hague v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

August 29, 2019

TAMARA S. HAGUE, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          Chelsey M. Vascura Magistrate Judge.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          SARAH D. MORRISON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Tamara S. Hague brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for review of a final decision by the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) to deny her application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income. This matter is before the Court on the Commissioner's Objections (ECF No. 21) to the Report and Recommendation (R&R) issued by the United States Magistrate Judge on February 27, 2019 (ECF No. 20), recommending that the Court reverse the Commissioner's decision. For the reasons set forth below, the Court SUSTAINS Plaintiff's Statement of Specific Errors, as to the first argument raised; OVERRULES the Commissioner's Objections; ADOPTS the R&R, as modified here; and REVERSES the Commissioner's decision and REMANDS this case to the Commissioner and the ALJ under Sentence Four of § 405(g) for further consideration.

         There are also three additional motions pending before this Court, the Commissioner's Motion for Leave to File Defendant's Objections to Magistrate Judge Vascura's Report and Recommendation Instanter (ECF No. 22) and Ms. Hague's Motions for Leave to File both a Supplemental Response to the Commissioner's Motion for Leave to File Instanter and a Response to the Commissioner's Objections to the R&R (ECF No. 25). For the reasons set forth below, the Commissioner's Motion for Leave to File Instanter is GRANTED, Ms. Hague's Motion for Leave to File a Supplemental Response to the Commissioner's Motion is GRANTED, and Ms. Hague's Motion for Leave to File a Response to the Commissioner's Objections to the R&R is DENIED as moot.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural History

         Ms. Hague filed her application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income on May 11, 2015. (R. at 187, 189, ECF No. 7.) Her claims were denied initially on June 15, 2015, and upon reconsideration on August 18, 2015. (Id. at 70-71, 96-97.) Ms. Hague requested a de novo hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”), which was held on May 11, 2017. (R. at 39-69.) On July 26, 2017, the ALJ issued his decision finding that Ms. Hague was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. (R. at 15-26.) On February 28, 2018, the Appeals Council denied Ms. Hague's request for review and affirmed the ALJ's decision. (R. at 1-6.)

         Ms. Hague filed this case on May 2, 2018 (ECF No. 1), and the Commissioner filed the administrative record on August 27, 2018 (ECF No. 7). Ms. Hague filed a Statement of Specific Errors (ECF No. 8), to which the Commissioner responded (ECF No. 16), and Ms. Hague filed a Reply (ECF No. 19). On February 27, 2019, the Magistrate Judge issued her R&R. (ECF No. 20.) After a thorough analysis, the Magistrate Judge recommended reversing the Commissioner's non-disability finding and remanding the case to the Commissioner and the ALJ under Sentence Four of § 405(g) for further consideration. On March 14, 2019, the Commissioner filed her Objections to the Magistrate's R&R. (ECF No. 21.) On March 20, 2019, Ms. Hague filed her Response to the Commissioner's Objections. (ECF No. 25.)

         B. Relevant Record Evidence

         1. State Agency Reviewing Psychologists

         On January 21, 2015, Ms. Hague was evaluated by Dr. Steven Meyer, Ph.D., at the request of the Ohio Division of Disability Determination. (R. 622-28.) On June 13, 2015, a state agency reviewing psychologist, Dr. Deryck Richardson, reviewed Ms. Hague's medical records, including Dr. Meyer's report. (R. at 77-81.) Upon doing so, Dr. Richardson concluded, as relevant here, that Ms. Hague could “interact [with] familiar groups of people but [that] her symptoms place restrictions upon her ability to interact with others in a work setting. [Her] symptoms limit her from responding appropriately to harsh criticism from supervisors. However, she can relate adequately on a superficial basis in an environment that entails infrequent public contact and requires little over the shoulder supervision.” (R. at 80.) On August 17, 2015, a second state agency reviewing psychologist, Dr. David Dietz, Ph.D., reviewed Ms. Hague's medical records and adopted Dr. Richardson's findings, including the conclusion quoted above. (R. at 102-06.)

         2. Hearing Testimony and ALJ's Decision

         At the administrative hearing, a vocational expert, Connie O'Brien, testified. (R. at 63- 67.) The ALJ posed a hypothetical to Ms. O'Brien wherein he asked her to consider an individual who “would be limited to incidental interaction with the general public, occasional interaction with supervisors and co-workers and no over-the-shoulder supervision” and who would be limited to working “without close team work or tandem work, ” along with a number of other limitations not relevant here. (R. at 63-64.) When asked to consider what jobs such an individual could perform, Ms. O'Brien identified a landscape worker, an order picker, a floor waxer, and a box marker. (R. at 64-65.)

         Later, in his decision, the ALJ assessed that Ms. Hague “has the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with” a number of “nonexertional limitations, ” including that she be “limited to incidental interaction with the public and occasional interaction with coworkers and supervisors and no over the shoulder supervision” and that she be “limited to jobs where the individual's job responsibilities are accomplished without the need for close teamwork or tandem work.” (R. at 20.) Based on this ...


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