United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton
H. Rice District Judge.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS 
L. Ovington United States Magistrate Judge.
Social Security Administration provides Disability Insurance
Benefits and Supplemental Security Income to individuals who
are under a disability, among other eligibility requirements.
A disability in this context refers to “any medically
determinable physical or mental impairment” that
precludes an applicant from engaging in “substantial
gainful activity.” 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A),
1382c(a)(3)(A); see Bowen v. City of New York, 476
U.S. 467, 469-70 (1986).
s Steven Ary applied for Disability Insurance Benefits and
Supplemental Security Income in September 2013, asserting his
disability started on May 1 2008 and continued thereafter.
After preliminary denials of his applications, Administrative
Law Judge Mark Hockensmith held a hearing and later denied
Plaintiff's applications based on his conclusion that he
was not under a disability. (Doc. #6, PageID #s
924-37). Upon appeal of that decision to this Court, the
parties stipulated to a remand for further administrative
second hearing before ALJ Hockensmith, during which Plaintiff
testified (for a second time), ALJ Hockensmith again found
Plaintiff not disabled and again denied his applications.
(Doc. #6, PageID #s 728-40).
brings the present case contending (in part) that ALJ
Hockensmith erred by rejecting the opinions of psychological
examiner Giovanni M. Bonds, Ph.D., and by relying on a
vocational expert's testimony “to qualify
limitations in the residual functional capacity.” (Doc.
#7, PageID #7). Rather than a remand for further
proceedings, Plaintiff seeks a remand for payment of
benefits. The Commissioner finds no error in the ALJ's
decision and asks the Court to affirm.
asserted disability onset date, Plaintiff was forty-four
years old-a younger person under social security law. In the
first half of 2014, he turned age fifty, thus becoming a
person “closely approaching advanced age.” He has
a high-school education and has worked in the past as a
machinist and an assistant press operator.
testified during an administrative hearing before ALJ
Hockensmith that he stopped working because of his mental
impairments, especially his difficulty in getting overwhelmed
around people and when communicating with people. (Doc. #6,
PageID #73). He sometimes had difficulty just being
around his grandchildren. Plaintiff further testified that he
cannot work due to breathing problems and excruciating nerve
pain in his legs and back. Id. at 78. He also has
neuropathy in his feet due to diabetes.
has undergone on-and-off mental-health treatment at TCN
Behavioral Health Services. Id. at 337-89, 412-54,
458-97, 626-62, 682-96.
psychological assessment of Plaintiff in 2009 resulted to
diagnoses of an anxiety disorder, polysubstance dependence
and assigned a GAF score of 50. Id. at 348. (The GAF
scale was still in vogue at that time.) Plaintiff's
treatment at TCN focused on both his diagnoses. Id.
at 348, 451. He experienced racing thoughts and difficulty
sleeping. Despite receiving treatment for several months, he
was ultimately discharged for non-participation. Id.
Plaintiff briefly returned to TCN in 2012 for substance-abuse
treatment after being arrested for trespassing. Id.
received treatment at TCN for a third time in July 2013 which
continued through the date of his first administrative
hearing in June 2015. Id. at 429. He sought help for
increasing problems with depression and anxiety. He reported
restlessness, getting inadequate sleep, and problems
weathering social interactions. Id. During
treatment, Plaintiff described his symptoms as worse when
around others. He was forgetful and he felt as though he
“can't shut off his brain.” Id. at
484. He felt, “energy-shaky inside.” Id.
Abnormalities seen during a mental status examination
included an anxious/depressed mood, a restricted affect, poor
concentration, and/or limited insight/judgment. Id.
at 489-90, 530, 642, 647-58, 694.
last attended a diagnostic assessment at TCN in January 2018.
Id. at 1245-56. During the assessment, he reported
that the medications prescribed by his primary care physician
were not helping his anxiety and depression. Id. at
1246. He said he felt “depressed a lot of the
time” and had little interest in activities.
Id. at 1251. “[He] has no energy, often feels
worthless, and hopeless, and sad.” Id. Weekly
panic attacks afflicted him, and he was diagnosed with
depressive and general anxiety disorders. Id. at
November 2013, psychologist Dr. Bonds examined Plaintiff at
the request of the Ohio Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation.
By that time, Plaintiff had been homeless for at least three
years. He stayed with either of his two sons or his
girlfriend or his friend. He told Dr. Bonds that for several
years, he had experience problems with anxiety, depression,
memory loss, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, nerve
pain in his back and leg, and pain in his feet from diabetes.
Id. at 498.
Bonds observed that Plaintiff's mood seemed depressed.
Plaintiff told Dr. Bonds that he felt very depressed almost
every day. Dr. Bonds noted, “He expressed feelings of
worthlessness and helplessness…. [He] reported that he
is easily angered but he does not lash out at people when he
gets angry. Instead he withdraws and stays to
himself….” Id. at 501. Dr. Bonds also
described Plaintiff as “very nervous during the
interview. He sat on the edge of his seat. He frequently
bounced his legs. He was squeezing his hands together and he
bit his fingernails. He stated that he is nervous and worried
all the time. He is worried about where he is going to live
and how he is going to eat….” Id.
Bonds reported that Plaintiff took the Minnesota Multiphasic
Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2). “His results indicate
that he is experiencing severe distress which he is openly
acknowledging and he perceives himself as having limited
personal resources. His results are considered valid and
interpretable.” Id. at 504. Dr. Bonds
described other alarming test results:
[Plaintiff's] MMPI-2 clinical profile is indicative of a
person who is chronically worried, tense, and agitated. He is
socially uncomfortable and has poor social skills and
judgment. He has difficulty forming close personal
relationships and usually is withdrawn, isolated and
introverted. These characteristics exacerbate his obsessive
ruminations. This is a person who is a constant worrier. He
is depressed, guilt ridden and obsessively preoccupied with
his personal deficiencies. Suicidal ideation is likely and
should be assessed and monitored with this
individual…. Further evaluation for a thought disorder
is suggested by these results.
Id. at 504.
Bonds diagnosed Plaintiff with generalized anxiety disorder
and dysthymic disorder. Id. at 506. She opined that
Plaintiff “is best suited currently for some type of
low stress position in which he works with very few people
and mostly works alone. His efforts to seek employment
however may need to be delayed until his anxiety and
depression are brought under better control and
months later, Dr. Bonds answered interrogatories. She stated
that the combination of Plaintiff's psychological and
physical symptoms reduces his ability to concentrate, persist