United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
William H. Baughman, Jr. United States Magistrate Judge.
is an action by Marilyn Kay Dodson seeking judicial review of
the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security that
denied her application for disability insurance
benefits. The Commissioner has
answered. Under my pretrial ordersthe parties have
briefed their arguments,  filed fact sheets and participated
in a telephonic oral argument.
reasons that follow the decision of the Commissioner to deny
benefits will be affirmed.
relevant facts are simply stated. Dodson was born in 1954 and
so was a person of advanced age at all stages of her
application. She has a high school education and her
past relevant work was as a dispatcher and in
maintenance. She last worked full-time in
2014 and she initially filed her claim in
Dodson claimed in her application that she was disabled as a
result of gastroparesis and associated acid reflux issues, as
well as diabetes, neuropathy and high blood
pressure. She stated that she was unable to eat
when stressed and that this condition has caused her to lose
weight, as well as prevented her from eating “regular
size meals.”She further stated that stress induces
feelings of heartburn and diarrhea which in turn means that
she must stay upright (a standing or seated position) for
three hours after eating. She reported that she could
perform normal daily activities so long as she remained close
to a bathroom.
found that Dodson did not meet any listing, but rather
analyzed individual digestive disorder symptoms to determine
if, in combination, Dodson's symptoms met or equaled a
listing. After giving “great weight”
to the opinions of two State agency consultants regarding the
meeting of a listing, the ALJ concluded that Dodson did not
meet or equal a listing.
RFC, Dodson was determined to have a capacity for performing
light work with some additional limitations.
support of that RFC, the ALJ set forth a detailed examination
of Dodson's complaints as to the purported limitations
brought about by her symptoms. In that regard, he first
discussed the objective medical evidence, with emphasis on
the 2014-2017 treatment notes from Dr. Tischner, her primary
care physician, and Dr. Shaeen, her
gastroenterologist. He then examined the 2016 functional
capacity opinions of the two State agency consultants, giving
the opinions “limited partial
weight.” The ALJ stated that additional
restrictions were required to account for “infrequent,
” “intermittent” and
“non-severe” postural and exertional
based on the testimony of a VE, the ALJ found that Dodson
would be capable of performing her past relevant work, which
in this case was determined to be “Dispatcher,
Dodson was found not to be disabled.
Dodson makes three arguments:
1. The ALJ failed to properly consider SSR 14-2p in analyzing
whether a combination of symptoms was equivalent to a
2. The ALJ's determination that Dodson lacked credibility
as to the limiting effects of her symptoms was not supported
by substantial evidence and was contrary to SSR 16-3p.
3. The ALJ improperly found that Dodson could return to her
past relevant work.
instances, the claims will be considered here according to
the well-known substantial evidence standard set out in
Bruxton v. Halter. The first argument will be
addressed initially below. As counsel agreed at the
telephonic oral argument, the remaining arguments are
related, and so will be considered together.
first issue here, as stated, is that the ALJ failed to
properly consider SSR 14-2p in addressing the combined
symptoms of Dodson's diabetes. She maintains that her
diabetic complications consist of gastroparesis,
polyneuropathy and edema in her legs.She further
contends that it was error by the ALJ not to specifically
mention SSR 14-2p in the analysis.
at the outset that SSR 14-2p simply “provides
information about the types of impairments and limitations
that result from diabetes mellitus” and “provides
guidance” as to how to evaluate disability claims
arising from diabetes mellitus. Significantly, there is
no requirement that this particular Social Security Ruling be
specifically cited in conducting an analysis that follows its
guidance. Indeed, Magistrate Judge Greenberg recently
observed that it was only harmless error when an ALJ
incorrectly cited to a wholly different and incorrect Social
Security Ruling as part of an analysis of whether a
claimant's diabetes symptoms met or equaled a listing.
Rather, Magistrate Judge Greenberg concluded that what was
actually required was that the ALJ had evaluated the
claimant's disorder under the applicable listings for the
body systems affected by her disorder.
exactly what occurred here. In line with the general rubric
for evaluating whether a claimant meets or equals a listing,
and specifically in accord with Magistrate Judge
Greenberg's standard in cases like this of analyzing a
claimant's symptoms by reference to affected body
systems, the ALJ here carefully analyzed symptoms of diabetic
gastroparesis, weight loss, and diabetic polyneuropathy and
concluded that, individually or taken together, Dodson had
not met or equaled any listed impairment.
the ALJ stated that he considered and gave great weight to
the opinions of two State agency consultants who concluded
that Dodson had not met or equaled any listing related to the
digestive system. Such an opinion by a state ...