Sonja Stankoski v. Commissioner of Social Securit


OPINION filed: We AFFIRM, decision not for publication. David W. McKeague, Circuit Judge; Bernice Bouie Donald, (Authoring) Circuit Judge and David M. Lawson, U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan, sitting by designation.

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Case: 12-4227 Document: 006111780819 Filed: 08/12/2013 Page: 1 NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION File Name: 13a0746n.06 FILED No. 12-4227 UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT SONJA STANKOSKI, ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Plaintiff-Appellant, v. MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant-Appellee. Aug 12, 2013 DEBORAH S. HUNT, Clerk ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO OPINION Before: McKEAGUE and DONALD, Circuit Judges; LAWSON, District Judge.* Bernice B. Donald, Circuit Judge. On April 30, 2007, Sonja Stankoski applied for disability insurance benefits. Her application was denied by the Commissioner of Social Security. The denial was upheld after a hearing before an administrative law judge. The Commissioner’s decision was affirmed by the district court. Stankoski timely appeals. For the reasons set forth herein, we AFFIRM. I. In 2007, Sonja Stankoski sought Social Security disability insurance benefits, alleging that she could not work due to a host of mental and physical impairments. Although she attempted to * The Honorable David M. Lawson, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan, sitting by designation. Case: 12-4227 Document: 006111780819 Filed: 08/12/2013 Page: 2 No. 12-4227 Stankoski v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec. do part-time work as an interpreter in 2008 and 2009, she had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 3, 2006, the alleged onset date of her disability. Stankoski testified that she received private disability benefits until May 2009. Stankoski suffers from major depressive disorder, single episode; osteoarthritis of the spine; ischemic cardiac disease; fibromyalgia; obesity; and hypothyroidism. 1. Mental Impairments In April 2007, Stankoski was diagnosed with major depressive disorder, severe without psychotic features. In August 2007, Stankoski attended a psychological consultative mental status examination where Mark Hammerly, Ph.D., diagnosed her with moderate single episode major depression. Dr. Hammerly noted that Stankoski was mildly deficient in social relationships and performed minimal household and community activities. Dr. Hammerly also noted that Stankoski drove herself to appointments and attempted to seek employment within the last year. Dr. Hammerly rated Stankoski’s mental abilities as moderately impaired in relating to others; not impaired in her ability to understand, remember, and follow instructions; not impaired in her ability to maintain attention, concentration, persistence, and pace to perform simple repetitive tasks; and moderately impaired in her ability to endure the stress and pressures associated with day-to-day work activity. Stankoski sought mental health treatment until May 2009 when her husband changed insurance. In July 2009, Bruce Hennessy, M.D., Stankoski’s treating gastroenterologist, recommended that Stankoski continue to see a counselor for her ongoing depression. Dr. Hennessy opined that Stankoski seemed depressed and that Stankoski’s depression was creating her physical symptoms. -2- Case: 12-4227 Document: 006111780819 Filed: 08/12/2013 Page: 3 No. 12-4227 Stankoski v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec. Dr. Hennessy explained to Stankoski that medical therapy was unsuccessful in treating her physical ailments, but psychotherapy could be beneficial in getting to the root of the problem. Stankoski received psychotropic medication, but she has not received the recommended psychotherapy. 2. Physical Impairments A. Back Impairments In September 2007, an x-ray of Stankoski’s lumbar spine suggested degenerative disc disease at vertebrae L4-L5 with interspace narrowing, sclerosis, spurring, and vacuum disk formation. In October 2007, a lumbar magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan showed L4-5 desiccation and bulge with moderate spinal canal stenosis, along with L3-4 disc desiccation and bulge with mild biforaminal stenosis and mild central canal stenosis. Stankoski also had an MRI of the cervical spine, which showed C3-C4 s

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