Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Withrow v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration

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

January 9, 2020

Fondia K. Withrow, Plaintiff,
Commissioner Of The Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          Walter H. Rice District Judge



         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff 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.

         Plaintiff 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.

         II. Background

         Plaintiff 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)).[1]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 #350).

         A. Plaintiff's Testimony

         During 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.

         Plaintiff 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.

         Plaintiff 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. Id.

         Plaintiff 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.

         Plaintiff 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.

         Plaintiff 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 hours. Id.

         Plaintiff also has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. She treats it with an inhaler and other prescribed medication. Id. at 113.

         Plaintiff does not recall what medications she takes, but she acknowledged they cause her no side effects. Id. at 118-19.

         Regarding 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.

         B. Medical Opinions

         Dr. Sadikov

         Records 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.

         In May 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.

         In June 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. Id.

         In July 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.

         In late 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.

         Dr. 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.

         Joan E. Simpson, Psy.D.

         Joan E. 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.

         Dr. 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 ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.