United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton
DECISION AND ENTRY
L. Ovington United States Magistrate Judge
Wendy Stewart brings this case challenging the Social
Security Administration's denial of her application for
Supplemental Security Income. She applied for benefits in
June 2015, asserting that she could no longer work a
substantial paid job. Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
Elizabeth A. Motta concluded that she was not eligible for
benefits because she is not under a “disability”
as defined in the Social Security Act.
case is before the Court upon Plaintiff's Statement of
Errors (Doc. #8), the Commissioner's Memorandum in
Opposition (Doc. #12), Plaintiff's Reply (Doc. #13), and
the administrative record (Doc. #6).
seeks a remand of this case for payment of benefits or, at a
minimum, for further proceedings. The Commissioner asks the
Court to affirm ALJ Motta's non-disability decision.
asserts that she has been under a “disability”
since May 1, 1998. On the date she applied for Supplemental
Security Income, she was thirty-two years old and was
therefore considered a “younger person” under
Social Security Regulations. See 20 C.F.R. §
416.963(c). She has a high school education. See Id.
hearing, when ALJ Motta asked why she was disabled, Plaintiff
responded, “I can't - - I don't - - my anxiety,
my PTSD, I freeze up. I start shaking really bad. I - - I
don't - - I really [don't] know how to explain
it.” (Doc. #6, PageID #69). She explained that
she has always had an issue with communication but, for the
past seven years, it has been the worst. Id.
struggles with anxiety. She takes medication for anxiety and
depression. Id. at 73. Her former primary-care
doctor prescribed it. Id. at 73. However, at the
time of the hearing, she was trying to find a new doctor
because she “got in trouble” for cussing and
arguing with a lady at her doctor's office. Id.
Plaintiff is anxious, she gets shaky, her palms sweat, her
body shakes, she trembles, she gets confused, and she feels a
lot of emotion. Id. at 79. It happens when someone
knocks on the door, when she opens the front door, and when
she has to leave the house. Id. at 79.
once a week, when Plaintiff gets mad, starts yelling and
screaming, runs into her room, slams the door, and sits
inside the door so she does not go back out. Id. at
85. She does not like to yell in front of her kids.
went to TCN for suboxone treatment but stopped going when she
“completed it.” Id. She also attended
group therapy sessions. Id. at 70. She stopped
treatment at TCN because her doctor asked her too many
personal questions about her “past life” and
“sex experiences ….” Id. She
instead sees a private counselor, Dr. Rogers, every other
week. Id. at 70, 84. Dr. Rogers told her that she
has a lot of symptoms of PTSD but Plaintiff cannot pinpoint a
specific traumatic experience. Id. at 84.
Nonetheless, Plaintiff believes therapy helps her.
Id. at 71.
has not used drugs other than marijuana since March 2009.
Id. At the time of the hearing, she had recently
quit smoking marijuana. Id. She hopes to move to
Colorado so that she could smoke legally. Id.
Marijuana helps her anxiety “a ton.” Id.
at 81 In addition to her psychological issues, she
“just recently started hurting within the last so many
years.” Id. at 69. She has back pain caused by
facet's disease. Id. at 74. Unfortunately, there
is no cure and her doctors told her that it would only get
worse. Id. She has trouble lifting more than a
gallon of milk. Id. at 82.
Plaintiff gets nauseated and throws up almost every day.
Id. at 74. Her doctors cannot determine what is
causing her nausea. Id. She takes Zofran to help.
has good days and bad days. When she is having a good day,
she sits with her younger children, plays, and tries to teach
them things. Id. at 76, 83. On a bad day, she yells,
screams, and cries. Id. at 80. She used to throw
things but does not anymore. Id. Generally, if she
spends more time at home, she has more good days.
Id. She estimated that she has two to three bad days
a week. Id. at 81.
has six children who are 3, 4, 8, 13, 17, and 19 years old.
Id. at 67. The two youngest live with her.
Id. However, she cannot be alone with her three-year
old and four-year old. Id. at 81. Her boyfriend
usually helps her but if he cannot, her nineteen-year-old son
helps her. Id. Moreover, Plaintiff cannot take the
kids out of the house by herself but is able to go if her
boyfriend is with her. Id. at 76.
goes to the grocery store once a month. Id. at 77.
From time to time, she goes to Narcotics Anonymous meetings.
Id. She has one friend who is an older lady.
Id. Plaintiff tries to help her boyfriend clean the
house but when she does too much, she has severe pain for two
days. Id. at 82. She can put laundry into the washer
and start it but cannot pull the clothes out and put them in
the dryer. Id. at 77. She sometimes gets on the
internet on her phone. Id. at 78. If she has to read
something, she must read it four or five times before she can
comprehend it. Id. She has to be reminded to take a
shower and she does not brush her teeth. Id. at 79.
Plaintiff has never had a driver's license. Id.
at 68. When she tried to drive, she wrecked the vehicle.
Jeff Combs' Testimony
Combs, Plaintiff's boyfriend of seven years, testified at
the hearing before ALJ Motta. Id. at 86. He worked
full time until about five years before the hearing when he
had to quit to help take care of their young children.
Id. at 87. At the time of the hearing, Mr. Combs
could only work part-time-two days a week-outside the home.
Id. at 87-88. He explained that it was difficult for
him to find work because he does not know when Plaintiff will
have an episode and he takes her to a lot of doctor
appointments. Id. at 88. He found an employer who
will allow him to work two days a week on his own schedule.
Id. He cannot find a full-time job with that much
flexibility. Id. When he is at work, their
eighteen-year-old son comes over to help Plaintiff.
he sometimes has to leave work early to go home to intervene
I've had times where I've been at work and she called
me just crying. I mean crying, breaking down or raising cane,
cussing and when are you coming home? And … if she has
too much time to think, she'll start thinking. It's
almost … like she … pictures stuff and she
believes what she's seeing but it's not real. I
don't mean … hallucinations. I mean …
she'll think I might be out running around on her