United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
Fondia K. Withrow, Plaintiff,
Commissioner Of The Social Security Administration, Defendant.
H. Rice District Judge
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS 
L. OVINGTON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Fondia K. Withrow brings this case challenging the Social
Security Administration's denial of her applications for
Disability Insurance Income and Supplemental Security Income.
The denial mainly occurred in the decision of Administrative
Law Judge (ALJ) Deborah F. Sanders, who concluded that
Plaintiff was not under a benefits-qualifying disability.
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 Sanders's decision.
asserts that she has been under a disability beginning on
February 23, 2015. She was age 54 on that date and is
therefore an individual “closely approaching advanced
age” under Social Security Regulations. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1563, 416.963(d)).Plaintiff has a high school
education and past relevant work as a copy machine operator
and sewing machine operator. Her additional former jobs
include on-call nurse, office manager, image processor,
customer service representative, assistant manager of a
retail store, HWAP (Home Weatherization Assistance Program)
specialist, and chart processor. (Doc. #6, PageID
an administrative hearing ALJ Sanders held, Plaintiff
testified that she could not work a full-time job due to (1)
her need to see the doctor at least twice weekly; (2)
“horrible migraines”; (3) bodily pain and
difficulty sitting continuously at a computer accompanied by
difficulty concentrating; and (4) constant tiredness,
difficulty remembering, and pain from fibromyalgia.
Id. at 109. She described her fibromyalgia pain as
“you feel like you're just one giant bruise. You
don't want to be touched. It just hurts.”
Id. at 110. She testified to experiencing 3 to 4
fibromyalgia flare-ups per year. Id. at 109. Falling
down will trigger these as well as “largely emotional
situation[s], ” such as a funeral, surgery, dental
appointments, and migraines. Id. at 110.
suffers 2 or 3 migraine headaches a week. Id.
Medication “doesn't quite” control her
migraines. Id. at 111. Her doctor informed her that
stress causes her migraines. Her constant daily pain alone
can be serious enough to “stress [her] out
completely.” Id. She testified that
“once every couple of months” she experiences a
migraine that sends her to the emergency room. Id.
She also has cluster migraines during which her migraine pain
lasts 3 or 4 days.
further testified that she has neck pain that moves down into
her shoulders once every 2 months. Id. at 129. She
is not able to turn her head to the side very well. She has
learned to live with daily neck pain. Id. at 128.
She also has neuropathy. When her hands start to get cold in
wintertime, “they will feel like they're on fire.
If they stay cold for any amount of time, I can't really
use them….” Id. at 127. She loves to
swim during the summer, but when she gets into the pool, she
has pins-and-needles feelings in her feet and hands.
also told the ALJ about her memory problems, stating,
“I can't remember crap.” Id. at 112.
She needs to have things written down. Id. at 114.
This caused her to experience job-performance problems at her
last job. Id. at 134. Plaintiff testified that she
was seeing a counselor once every other week for PTSD,
anxiety, and depression. Id. at 119, 130. She
endured abuse as a child. Id. at 131-32. PTSD
emerges when she hears loud noises. She testified that the
Fourth of July is “a horrible thing ….”
Id. at 130. Her PTSD symptoms also emerge when she
hears people arguing. She explained, “I get really
tense, stressed, and then I'll either get away from it or
I will blow up.” Id. at 130-31. She has minor
panic attacks about 3 times a week and a major panic attack
once a month. When anxiety hits her and causes a panic
attack, the anxiety “takes over” and she
can't talk or do anything. Id. at 132.
sees her primary-care physician Polina Sadikov, M.D. about 3
times a month because she frequently “catch[es]
everything that comes down the pike.” Id. at
118. Plaintiff thinks her immune system never recovered from
a bone-marrow transplant that she'd previously had to
treat cancer Id.
told the ALJ that her back is a “mess.”
Id. at 112. If she sits in the same position for too
long, her back gets “really sore.” Id.
at 112. She estimated she could sit no longer than about 2
also has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. She treats it
with an inhaler and other prescribed medication. Id.
does not recall what medications she takes, but she
acknowledged they cause her no side effects. Id. at
her daily activities, Plaintiff testified that she gets up at
8:00 a.m. and drinks some coffee. She then sits and watches
television. She stands and walks to the kitchen to get coffee
or to exercise her ankles. She spends most of her day sitting
and watching television. Id. at 120. She crochets
for no longer than 30 minutes. She pays her bills using her
phone. She is not really able to do household chores due to
back pain. She does not go shopping except for grocery
shopping once a month with help from one of her sons. He does
the heavy lifting and helps her remember what she needs to
buy. She tries to go to church every Sunday but only goes
every other Sunday. She has difficulty sitting through an
entire church service, so she stands and walks to the waiting
area where she can watch the service on television.
Id. at 122-23.
from Plaintiff's primary-care physician, Dr. Sadikov,
indicate that in February 2015, Plaintiff reported having
memory and concentration problems to the extent she could not
learn new things at work. Id. at 526. She also
reported chronic problems with headaches, neck and back pain,
arthralgias, depression, and anxiety. Dr. Sadikov believed
Plaintiff's memory problems could be related to her
medications and discontinued prescribing Neurontin and
Flexeril, and started her on Lyrica. Id.
2015, Plaintiff told Dr. Sadikov about new pain in her neck
and arm. Id. at 710. Dr. Sadikov's examination
showed that Plaintiff's neck was supple and exhibited
normal range of motion. She found Plaintiff's left
trapezius to be tender with muscle spasms. Id.
2015, Plaintiff saw Dr. Sadikov for an inversion injury to
her right ankle. Id. at 711. Dr. Sadikov examined
Plaintiff and diagnosed her with an ankle sprain.
2015, Plaintiff told Dr. Sadikov that she had daily neck pain
and was depressed and stressed. Id. at 712. Dr.
Sadikov described Plaintiff's mood as tearful and
depressed. Id. at 715. She diagnosed Plaintiff with
depression. Id. at 716.
July 2015, Dr. Sadikov completed a Residual Functional
Capacity Questionnaire in which she reported that Plaintiff
had been her patient for 20 years. Dr. Sadikov listed
Plaintiff's diagnoses as fibromyalgia, depression, and
chronic pain. Id. at 617. Her symptoms included
chronic daily back pain, neck pain, and pain in her lower
extremities, and chronic headaches. Her daily pain worsened
with stress and exertion. Id. Dr. Sadikov also
identified Plaintiff's clinical findings and objective
signs as joint tenderness, swelling, depressed mood, and
chronic fatigue. Id. Dr. Sadikov further noted that
Plaintiff's numerous medications can cause sleepiness and
dizziness. Id. She believed that Plaintiff was not a
malingerer. Id. at 618.
Sadikov opined that Plaintiff's symptoms would frequently
interfere with the attention and concentration she needed to
perform even simple tasks, and she would need a low-stress
job. Id. Dr. Sadikov opined that Plaintiff could
stand/walk less than 2 hours and sit for about 2 hours in an
8-hour workday. Id. at 619. Plaintiff would need a
job that allowed her to shift positions at will, and she
would need to elevate her legs. Id. According to Dr.
Sadikov, Plaintiff could rarely lift and carry 10 pounds and
occasionally lift and carry less than 10 pounds. Id.
at 619. Dr. Sadikov concluded that Plaintiff would need to
take unscheduled breaks during the workday and would be
absent from work more than 4 days per month as a result of
her impairments or treatment. Id. at 619-20.
E. Simpson, Psy.D.
Simpson, Psy.D. evaluated Plaintiff in May 2015 for the Ohio
Division of Disability Determinations. Id. at
610-15. Dr. Simpson observed Plaintiff to be anxious
“as demonstrated by nervous laughter.”
Id. at 613. Plaintiff “did not appear to
exaggerate or minimize her difficulties.” Id.
She displayed fidgetiness and cried when discussing her work
difficulties. She spoke softly and maintained variable eye
contact with Dr. Simpson. Dr. Simpson indicated that
Plaintiff displayed “no difficulty following
conversationally or responding to direct questions.”
Id. She calculated 2 iterations of serial 7s
(counting down from 100 by 7s in 30 seconds) with 1 error.
She was asked to perform serial 3s and did so correctly in 11
seconds. She showed no indication of easy distractibility and
did not ask Dr. Simpson to repeat her questions. Id.
Simpson diagnosed Plaintiff with major depressive disorder
and anxiety disorder. Id. at 614. According to Dr.
Simpson, Plaintiff's prognosis was fair. She opined that
Plaintiff maintained a “low-level capacity” for
maintaining attention, concentration, persistence, and pace
to perform both simple and multi-step tasks. Id. at
615. Plaintiff did not lack the capacity to respond
appropriately to supervision and ...