Morrison v. Commissioner of Social Security
OPINION and ORDER: Plaintiffs Statement of Errors is OVERRULED. Judgment is entered in favor of the Defendant. Signed by Magistrate Judge Kimberly A. Jolson on 8/10/2017. (ew)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
DONNA JEAN MORRISON,
Civil Action 2:16-cv-1061
Magistrate Judge Jolson
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL
OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff, Donna Jean Morrison, filed this action seeking review of a decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying her application for disability
insurance benefits. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff’s Statement of Errors (Doc. 14) is
OVERRULED, and judgment is entered in favor of Defendant.
A. Prior Proceedings
Plaintiff filed for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) on September 6, 2013, alleging a
disability onset date of March 1, 2001. (Id.). Her earnings record shows that she acquired
sufficient quarters of coverage to remain insured through March 31, 2006. (Doc. 13-3, Tr. 65,
PAGEID #: 124). Plaintiff’s claim was denied initially on December 17, 2013 (Doc. 13-4, Tr.
83, PAGEID #: 143) and upon reconsideration on March 31, 2014 (id., Tr. 89, PAGEID #: 149).
Administrative Law Judge William Spalo (the “ALJ”) held a video hearing on September 14,
2015 (Doc. 13-2, Tr. 23, PAGEID #: 81), after which he denied benefits in a written decision on
October 28, 2015 (id., Tr. 7, PAGEID #: 65). That decision became final when the Appeals
Council denied review on September 14, 2016. (Id., Tr. 1, PAGEID #: 59).
Plaintiff filed this case on November 7, 2016 (Doc. 1), and the Commissioner filed the
administrative record on January 2, 2017 (Doc. 13). Plaintiff filed a Statement of Specific Errors
on February 27, 2017 (Doc. 14), the Commissioner responded on April 11, 2017 (Doc. 17), and a
Reply was filed on April 25, 2017 (Doc. 18). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Fed. R. Civ. P.
73, and upon consent of the parties, this case was referred to the undersigned to conduct all
proceedings and order the entry of final judgment. (Docs. 15, 16).
B. Relevant Testimony at the Administrative Hearing
At the start of the hearing, the ALJ discussed with Plaintiff her right to representation:
ALJ: When we first received your case in the hearing office here we wrote you a
letter advising you of your right to representation . . . That notice listed phone
numbers for various legal groups which may be able to assist you finding legal
representation, such as the State Bar Referral Service, or Legal Services offices.
The letter also told you there may be free legal services available to you. Do you
remember receiving that letter in the notice?
CLMT: Yes, sir.
ALJ: All right. I need to ensure on the record that you understand your rights to
representation. You have the right to be represented by an attorney or a qualified
non-attorney. The representative can help you obtain information about your
claim, submit evidence, explain medical terms, help protect your rights, make any
requests, or give any notice about the proceedings before me. The representative
may not charge a fee or receive a fee unless we approve it . . .
Do you understand your rights to representation?
CLMT: Yes, Sir.
ALJ: Do you want to proceed today without a representative?
CLMT: Yes, sir.
(Doc. 13-2, Tr. 26–27, PAGEID #: 84–85). Following this exchange, Plaintiff signed a waiver
of right to representation acknowledging that the ALJ had explained her rights, that she
understood them, and wanted to proceed. (Id., Tr. 27, PAGEID #: 85).
Plaintiff stated at the hearing that she had an opportunity to review the record and
informed the Court that she brought additional records from Dr. Kenneth Saul, dating back to
1998 (and totaling 153 pages), that illustrated her back problems, diabetes, and depression. (Id.,
Tr. 28–29, PAGEID #: 86–87; see also Doc. 13-9, Tr. 602–754, PAGEID #: 667–819). The ALJ
then explained that because Plaintiff was unrepresented, he needed to clarify the issues that
needed to be determined in Plaintiff’s case, and proceeded to give a thorough explanation. (Doc.
13-2, Tr. 29–30, PAGEID #: 87–88). It was also explained multiple times that the time frame at
issue was March 2001 through March 2006, Plaintiff’s date last insured. (Id., Tr. 30, 47,
PAGEID #: 88, 105).
During the ALJ’s questioning of Plaintiff, she testified that her depression, her inability
to deal with people, and being “angry all the time” prevented her from being able to work. (Id.,
Tr. 38, PAGEID #: 96). Specifically, Plaintiff stated that “stupid people” would make her upset
and angry. (Id., Tr. 39, PAGEID #: 97). Plaintiff’s daughter also testified and agreed that her
mom’s depression contributed to her inability to work. (Id., Tr. 48, PAGEID #: 106). Plaintiff
stated that she saw Dr. Saul for her depression and anger issues, who prescribed Prozac and
Xanax, but did not recommend any therapy or counseling. (Id., Tr. 38–39, PAGEID #: 96–97).
Plaintiff also explained that her feet issues, caused by her diabetic neuropathy, presented
other limitations and prevented her from working because she could only stand for “a couple
hours.” (Id., Tr. 40–41, PAGEID #: 98–99). Further, she stated that she had pain in her low
back and legs, but explained that surgery relieved her leg pain. (Id., Tr. 42–43, PAGEID #: 100–
In terms of daily activities, Plaintiff testified that she is able to drive, split the cooking
responsibilities with her husband, and grocery shop, although her daughter stated she did not
grocery shop very often. (Id., Tr. 45, 54, PAGEID #: 103, 112). Plaintiff is unable to do the
laundry because it hurts “to bend into the washing machine” and “lift the basket.” (Id.).
A vocational expert (“VE”) testified that if Plaintiff could work at the light exertional
level, with the ALJ’s proposed limitations, she would be capable of performing her past work as
a stapler, as well as other light, unskilled jobs, such as a bagger for garments. (Id., Tr. 60,
PAGEID #: 118). The VE also testified that even if limited to sedentary, unskilled jobs, Plaintiff
could work as a final assembler, prepare for plated products, or a waxer. (Id., Tr. 60–61,
PAGEID #: 118–19). Following the VE’s testimony, the ALJ gave Plaintiff an opportunity to
ask questions, at which time she explained that she “really didn’t understand all that stuff he was
saying.” (Id., Tr. 62, PAGEID #: 120). The ALJ then explained in detail what the VE’s
testimony meant and the process following the hearing. (Id., Tr. 62–63, PAGEID #: 121–22).
C. Relevant Medical Background
1. Medical Records Provided at the Hearing by Plaintiff
Plaintiff saw Dr. Kenneth Saul on March 8, 2001, with a reported blood sugar level
around 200 to 300 mg/dL. (Doc. 13-9, Tr. 696, PAGEID #: 761). At a follow-up appointment
on July 16, 2001, Plaintiff stated that she did not check her blood sugar regularly and indicated
she had been feeling “slowed” with no energy. (Id., Tr. 695, PAGEID #: 760).
At another appointment with Dr. Saul on August 6, 2002, Plaintiff reported shortness of
breath and chest pain. (Id., Tr. 679, PAGEID #: 745). Following that appointment, Plaintiff had
a myriad of tests performed.
A radiograph from August 8, 2002, showed left ventricular
enlargement, but no evidence of interstitial infiltrate, pulmonary edema, or pleural effusion. (Id.,
Tr. 681, PAGEID #: 746). An echocardiogram performed by Dr. R. Keith Pattison on August
22, 2002, revealed no abnormal findings and gave “no obvious explanation for chest pain.” (Id.,
Tr. 666, PAGEID #: 731). A cardiac catheterization performed on September 4, 2002, by Dr.
Bruce Fleishman showed angiographically normal coronaries. (Id., Tr. 662, PAGEID #: 727). A
stress cardiolite test done by Dr. Fleishman on August 27, 2002 revealed Plaintiff had a fair
exercise tolerance and hypertension. (Id., Tr. 676, PAGEID #: 741).
On January 23, 2003, Plaintiff saw Dr. Thomas Skeels for neck pain, arm pain, and
paresthesias, after muscle relaxants and Percocet prescribed by Dr. Saul were of “no help.” (Id.,
Tr. 655, PAGEID #: 720). Plaintiff complained of constant neck pain, intermittent pain in the
right arm that radiated to the dorsum of the hand, and intermittent left arm pain radiating to the
lateral forearm area. (Id.). Dr. Skeels noted Plaintiff was in no acute distress, had a normal gait,
and had a decreased range of motion in her cervical spine and shoulders with pain at all
endpoints of motion. (Id., Tr. 655–56, PAGEID #: 720–21). At the time, x-rays of the cervical
spine revealed no osseous abnormalities, there was no disk space narrowing, and x-rays of both
shoulders revealed no osseous abnormalities. (Id., Tr. 656, PAGEID #: 721). Dr. Skeels
suggested a trial of physical therapy since there was no indication of cervical disk disease and
“urged [Plaintiff] to get her diabetes under control because that may be a reason for her pain
On June 4, 2003, Plaintiff again saw Dr. Saul who noted her blood sugar was in the
200’s. (Id., Tr. 653, PAGEID #: 718). Then, on July 23, 2003, Plaintiff saw Dr. Victor Stelmack
for an evaluation for possible bariatric surgery.
(Id., Tr. 647, PAGEID #: 712).
evaluation, it was noted that with a body mass index of 39, “and several comorbid conditions
either directly related to or exacerbated by her severe obesity,” Plaintiff was a “good candidate”
for the surgery. (Id.). However, it does not appear from the record that Plaintiff underwent
At an October 21, 2003 appointment with Dr. Saul, Plaintiff’s blood sugar levels were
reported in the 400s and 500s, and Prilosec and Lipitor, inter alia, were prescribed. (Id., Tr. 642,
PAGEID #: 707). Plaintiff again saw Dr. Saul on June 28, 2004, for acute low back pain. (Id.,
Tr. 637, PAGEID #: 702). Consequently, Dr. Saul ordered an MRI of the lumbar spine, which
revealed minimal degenerative changes. (Id., Tr. 635, PAGEID #: 700).
Plaintiff underwent an MRI of the cervical spine on July 5, 2005, which showed mild
spondylosis most pronounced at the C3-C4 level, no central canal or foraminal narrowing, and
moderately severe left C3-C4 facet arthropathy. (Id., Tr. 596–97, PAGEID #: 661–62).
2. Medical Records Provided Before the Hearing
On August 30, 2004, Plaintiff saw Dr. David Sabol for a consultation regarding her
hepatitis c diagnosis a few months prior. (Doc. 13-7, Tr. 226, PAGEID #: 289). In a letter, Dr.
Sabol noted that Plaintiff had a history of diabetes that she was “currently trying to get under
better control,” as well as a history of depression for which she was on medication. (Id.). A few
weeks later, Plaintiff saw Dr. Irene Ryzansky who stated she had poor diabetes control and
needed to restart insulin and watch her diet. (Id., Tr. 226, PAGEID #: 289).
Plaintiff underwent a second cardiolite stress test with Dr. Wayne Beaver on November
16, 2004. (Id., Tr. 222, PAGEID #: 285). The test showed that Plaintiff was able to exercise for
7-and-a-half minutes to near-target heart rate without chest pain, and Dr. Beaver stated he
“would consider this to be a normal cardiolite stress test.” (Id.).
Two state agency physicians reviewed Plaintiff’s records on December 17, 2013, and
March 31, 2014, respectively. (Doc. 13-3, Tr. 69, 78, PAGEID #: 128, 137). Both physicians
opined that there was “insufficient evidence available during this time period to assess
[Plaintiff’s] impairments.” (Id.).
D. The ALJ’s Decision
The ALJ found that since the alleged onset date of disability, Plaintiff has suffered from
the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, degenerative
disc disease of the cervical spine, depression, and anxiety. (Doc. 13-2, Tr. 12, PAGEID #: 70).
The ALJ also addressed Plaintiff’s diabetic neuropathy, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,
and diabetes mellitus, but noted the evidence failed to show these impairments caused more than
minimal limitations on Plaintiff, and thus were classified as non-severe.
(Id., Tr. 12–13,
PAGEID #: 70–71). Specifically, in terms of Plaintiff’s diabetes, the ALJ noted that that “[t]he
evidence  fail[ed] to show complaints of ongoing symptoms that could provide functional
limitations.” (Id., Tr. 13, PAGEID #: 71). When discussing Plaintiff’s diabetes mellitus, the
ALJ recognized that although the treatment record supported diabetes, with the medications
prescribed “the evidence has not shown any corresponding ongoing symptoms or conditions.”
(Id.). Ultimately, the ALJ held that through Plaintiff’s date last insured, March 31, 2006,
Plaintiff’s physical impairments did not meet or medically equal the severity of one of the listed
impairments. (Id., Tr. 13, PAGEID #: 71).
When reviewing Plaintiff’s mental impairments under listing 12.04 and 12.06, the ALJ
opined as follows: Plaintiff had moderate restriction in activities of daily living, as she was
unable to do laundry or the dishes, but was able “to prepare food on many days;” Plaintiff had
moderate difficulties in social functioning, evidenced by her testimony of her anger issues, but
she alleged she was taking proscribed medications Prozac and Xanax; Plaintiff had moderate
difficulties with regard to concentration, persistence, or pace, as she had difficulty remembering
dates and information had to be explained to her multiple times according to the Social Security
field office report; and Plaintiff had not experienced any episodes of decompensation for an
extended duration. (Id., Tr. 13–14, PAGEID #: 71–72). Thus, the ALJ found that Plaintiff did
not satisfy the “paragraph b” or “paragraph c” criteria. The ALJ also noted that the limitations
he identified in the “paragraph b” analysis were incorporated into the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) assessment. (Id., Tr. 14, PAGEID #: 72).
As to Plaintiff’s RFC, the ALJ stated:
[T]he claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform light work as
defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except the claimant must not climb ladders, ropes
or scaffolds. The claimant can occasionally stoop, crouch, crawl, kneel and climb
ramps and stairs. The claimant can perform work that is limited to simple, routine
and repetitive tasks; and perform in a work environment free of fast paced
production requirements; involving only simple, work-related decisions; and with
few, if any work place changes. The claimant can have only brief and superficial
interaction with the public and co-workers.
(Id., Tr. 14, PAGEID #: 72). In making this determination, the ALJ stated he had considered all
symptoms and the extent to which these symptoms could reasonably be accepted as consistent
with the objective medical evidence and other evidence. (Id.).
When reviewing Plaintiff’s alleged degenerative disc disease of the lumbar and cervical
spine, the ALJ recognized that the evidence supported treatment for neck and lower back pain.
(Id., Tr. 15, PAGEID #: 73). However, the ALJ found that the severity of the issues as alleged
by Plaintiff was not supported by objective medical evidence:
[A January 23, 2003 Dr. Skeel] report cited x-rays of the cervical spine that
revealed no osscous abnormalities. The report also noted that an x-ray report of
the shoulders did not reveal any abnormalities . . . A January 2004 x-ray report of
the lumbar spine revealed only minimal degenerative changes. A July 2005 MRI
of the cervical spine revealed mild spondylosis most pronounced at C3-4.
(Id., Tr. 15, PAGEID #: 73). The ALJ relied on these findings, among others, as “strong support
for [his] finding to a light level of exertion with postural limitations during this period.” (Id.).
The ALJ then discussed Plaintiff’s mental limitations further, explaining that although
she alleged a history of depression, anxiety, and anger issues, she never sought “any medical
treatment for these allegations during the period of issue.” (Id., Tr. 16, PAGEID #: 74). Indeed,
there was no evidence of counseling or therapy. (Id.). The ALJ also held that Plaintiff’s alleged
symptoms and limitations were generally unpersuasive.
(Id., Tr. 17, PAGEID #: 75).
Specifically, the ALJ noted that in the 2009 functional status evaluation, Plaintiff reported
minimal difficulty with self-care, moderate difficulty with sleeping, and no difficulty with social
interaction. (Id., Tr. 16, PAGEID #: 74). Yet in a 2010 functional status report, Plaintiff
reported no difficulty in self-care, minimal difficulty with social interaction, and state that she
was rarely depressed and nervous. (Id., Tr. 16–17, PAGEID #: 74–75). Even with this in mind,
the ALJ explained that he still considered Plaintiff’s alleged mental impairments in the RFC.
Finally, the ALJ gave no weight to the state agency medical consultant’s opinion
“because the state agency consultants did not have the additional evidence that shows medically
determinable impairments, which would result in some limitations.” (Id., Tr. 17, PAGEID #:
75). Ultimately, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not under a disability as defined in the Social
Security Act at any time from the alleged onset date of March 1, 2001 through March 31, 2006.
(Id., Tr. 18, PAGEID #: 76).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The Court’s review “is limited to determining whether the Commissioner’s decision is
supported by substantial evidence and was made pursuant to proper legal standards.” Winn v.
Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 615 F. App’x 315, 320 (6th Cir. 2015); see 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
“[S]ubstantial evidence is defined as ‘more than a scintilla of evidence but less than a
preponderance; it is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.’” Rogers v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007)
(quoting Cutlip v. Sec’y of HHS, 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994)). “Therefore, if substantial
evidence supports the ALJ’s decision, this Court defers to that finding ‘even if there is
substantial evidence in the record that would have supported an opposite conclusion.’” Blakley
v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 406 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Key v. Callahan, 109 F.3d
270, 273 (6th Cir. 1997)).
Plaintiff alleges only one statement of error—that the ALJ committed harmful legal error
in failing to develop a full and fair record and instead erroneously relied on his own lay opinion
to formulate a residual functional capacity, without any interpretation, guidance, or opinion from
a medical source. (Doc. 14 at 1, 8–10). Specifically, Plaintiff points to the fact that the state
agency medical consultants concluded that they had insufficient evidence to determine disability,
and the fact that no medical source provided functional limitations.
(Id. at 7–10).
according to Plaintiff, is evidence that the ALJ failed to fully develop the record and relied on his
own opinion in dereliction of his duty.
A. Development of the Record
Plaintiff generally “bears the ultimate burden to prove by sufficient evidence that she is
entitled to disability benefits.” E.g., Ford v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 143 F. Supp. 3d 714, 721
(S.D. Ohio 2015) (citing Trandafir v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 58 F. App’x 113, 115 (6th Cir. 2003);
see also 20 C.F.R. § 404.1512(a)(1) (“In general, you have to prove to us that you are blind or
disabled.”). However, as Plaintiff points out, “[t]here are a few special circumstances—when a
claimant is without counsel, not capable of presenting an effective case, and unfamiliar with
hearing procedures—where the ALJ has a special duty to develop the record.” Id. at 721–22.
(quoting Lambdin v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 62 F. App’x 623, 625 (6th Cir. 2003)).
determination of whether an ALJ has failed fully to develop the record in derogation of this
heightened responsibility must be determined on a case-by-case basis.” Nabours v. Comm’r of
Soc. Sec., 50 F. App’x 272, 275 (6th Cir. 2002).
Plaintiff argues this case is one of those “few special circumstances.” (Doc. 14 at 8). In
particular, she argues that “it is clear from the ALJ’s decision and the testimony at the hearing
that [she] was not represented in the proceedings before the ALJ,” and thus the ALJ had a special
duty to develop the record. (Id.). It bears reminding though “that a claimant may waive his right
to counsel” and that does not in and of itself require a heightened responsibility for the ALJ. See
Nabours, 50 F. App’x at 275; see also Talaga v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 1:10-CV-890, 2011
WL 4374590, at *4 (W.D. Mich. Sept. 19, 2011) (“The ALJ’s special duty to develop a full and
fair record  does not apply to all unrepresented claimants.”). Nevertheless, Plaintiff fails to
address the other two factors the Court must consider—whether Plaintiff presented an effective
case and whether she was unfamiliar with hearing procedures.
After reviewing the record, even without counsel, the undersigned finds that Plaintiff
capably presented her case. See Ford, 143 F. Supp. 3d at 721. Plaintiff was able to effectively
communicate her previous work history, sufficiently articulate the symptoms and limitations that
she believed prevented her from being able to work, and supplied additional, relevant medical
evidence at the hearing. See Nabours, 50 F. App’x at 275–76 (holding that because Plaintiff
“was sufficiently articulate in her direct testimony” and “mustered an impressive amount of
supporting medical evidence,” there was nothing in the record to show the case fell within the
“special circumstances arena”). Plaintiff also brought her daughter to the hearing to corroborate
her limitations, further showing her effectiveness in presenting her case.
The hearing transcript also reflects the detailed explanations the ALJ gave to Plaintiff and
ultimately reflects her grasp of the proceedings. See Wilson v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 280 F.
App’x 456, 459 (6th Cir. 2008). It is clear that this is not a case where an unrepresented Social
Security claimant received only a brief, superficial hearing. Talaga v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No.
1:10-CV-890, 2011 WL 4374590, at *5 (W.D. Mich. Sept. 19, 2011) (citing Lashley, 708 F.2d at
1052 (noting that the ALJ conducted a “brief” 25–minute hearing which was transcribed on 11
pages, and engaged in “superficial questioning” of an elderly claimant with a fifth-grade
education who had suffered two strokes, “possessed limited intelligence, was inarticulate, and
appeared to be easily confused”)). Instead, the ALJ took great care to explain not only the
procedure of the hearing to Plaintiff, but also thoroughly explained the overall disability process,
which Plaintiff appeared to understand.
Thus, because special circumstances did not exist in this case which triggered the ALJ’s
special duty to develop the record, Plaintiff bears the burden of proving disability, which she
failed to do. Talaga, 2011 WL 4374590, at *5.
B. The ALJ’s Formulation of the RFC
Although Plaintiff bears the burden of proving disability, it is still the ALJ’s
responsibility to ensure the RFC finding is supported by substantial evidence. In her statement
of errors, Plaintiff suggests that the RFC was not supported by substantial evidence because the
ALJ relied on his own lay opinion. However, it is the ALJ, not a physician, who ultimately
determines a claimant’s RFC and resolves conflicts in the medical evidence.
§ 423(d)(5)(B); see also Nejat v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 359 F. App’x 574, 578 (6th Cir. 2009); 20
C.F.R. § 404.1527(d)(2) (the final responsibility for deciding the residual functional capacity “is
reserved to the Commissioner”). In doing so, the ALJ is charged with evaluating several factors
in determining the RFC, including the medical evidence (not limited to medical opinion
testimony), and the claimant’s testimony. Henderson v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 1:08-cv-2080,
2010 WL 750222, at *2 (N.D. Ohio Mar. 2, 2010) (citing Webb v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 368 F.3d
629, 633 (6th Cir. 2004)). The ALJ also has discretion to determine whether additional evidence
is necessary. See Ferguson v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 628 F.3d 269, 275 (6th Cir. 2010) (citing
Foster v. Halter, 279 F.3d 348, 355 (6th Cir. 2001)).
Here, the ALJ’s RFC was well-supported by both medical evidence and Plaintiff’s
testimony. The ALJ relied on several x-ray reports and an MRI to determine that Plaintiff’s
physical impairments still allowed for a light level of exertion. These reports that the ALJ
explicitly relied upon were not available to the state agency consultants.
Thus, the ALJ
reasonably assigned no weight to the state agency consultants’ opinions, because he had
significantly more information before him. See Little v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 2:14-CV-532,
2015 WL 5000253, at *12 (S.D. Ohio Aug. 24, 2015) (holding that substantial evidence
supported the ALJ’s determination “where the ALJ explicitly assessed state agency reviewer’s
opinions in light of subsequent record evidence and found that because of that subsequent
evidence, the reviewers’ opinions about Plaintiff’s physical impairments were entitled to no
The ALJ also found that Plaintiff’s alleged symptoms and limitations were generally
unpersuasive. Although Plaintiff might disagree, the Sixth Circuit has held that the Court must
accord great deference to an ALJ’s credibility assessment, particularly because the ALJ has the
opportunity to observe the demeanor of a witness while testifying. Jones v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec.,
336 F.3d 469, 476 (6th Cir. 2003). Further, despite this finding and Plaintiff’s failure to seek
treatment for her mental health impairments, the ALJ still incorporated mental limitations based
on Plaintiff’s testimony into the RFC.
Accordingly, the “record as a whole” contains substantial evidence to support the ALJ’s
RFC decision. See Berry v. Astrue, No. 1:09cv000411, 2010 WL 3730983, at *5 (S.D. Ohio
June 18, 2010).
For the reasons stated, Plaintiff’s Statement of Errors (Doc. 14) is OVERRULED and
judgment shall be entered in favor of Defendant.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Date: August 10, 2017
/s/ Kimberly A. Jolson
KIMBERLY A. JOLSON
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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