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Cline v. Colvin

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

November 19, 2014

Kandi Cline Plaintiff - Appellant
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Social Security Administration Commissioner Defendant - Appellee

Submitted September 10, 2014.

Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas - Jonesboro.

For Kandi Cline, Plaintiff - Appellant: Anthony W. Bartels, Attorney, Jonesboro, AR; Eugene Gregory Wallace, Campbell University School of Law, Raleigh, NC.

Carolyn W. Colvin, Social Security Administration Commissioner, Defendant - Appellee: Jonathan Ryan Clark, Michael McGaughran, Angeline S. Reese, Assistant Regional Counsel, Social Security Administration, Dallas, TX; Stacey E. McCord, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Little Rock, AR.

Before RILEY, Chief Judge, BRIGHT and SMITH, Circuit Judges.


Page 1099

RILEY, Judge.

Kandi Cline appeals from an order of the district court[1] affirming the Social Security Administration Commissioner's

Page 1100

(commissioner) decision to deny her application for supplemental security income (SSI) under the Social Security Act (Act), 42 U.S.C. § 1381 et seq. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we affirm.


A. Medical Evidence

On November 10, 2009, Kandi Cline applied for SSI, alleging she was disabled due to back pain, scoliosis, mitral valve prolapse, sacroilitis, and fibromyalgia. To support her disability claim, Cline submitted extensive medical records. From April 4, 2001, to January 24, 2006, Joseph B. Pierce, M.D., and other providers at the Caraway Medical Center treated Cline for, among other issues, chronic back pain, chronic neck pain, and lumbosacral neuritis. A September 2005 CT scan of Cline's lumbar spine showed " a tiny central disc protrusion at L5-S1 which is causing minor effacement of the ventral thecal sac, but no significant central canal or neural foraminal narrowing." MRIs of Cline's lumbar spine in October 2005 and September 2006 were normal.

Roger Cagle, M.D., treated Cline for approximately two years beginning in the fall of 2006. Dr. Cagle prescribed pain medication for Cline's lower back pain and muscle spasms. Dr. Cagle's notes indicate Cline denied unusual weakness, drowsiness, and chronic fatigue. Dr. Cagle noted Cline showed no neurological deficits, nor any cyanosis, clubbing or edema of her extremities. On September 24, 2008, Dr. Cagle diagnosed lower back pain, degenerative arthritis of the spine, and muscle spasms.

On August 7, 2007, orthopedist Patricia Knott, M.D., diagnosed Cline with spastic colon, mitral valve prolapse, and lumbar pain with possible degenerative disc changes--though Dr. Knott noted she had no CT scan or MRI results on which to base her diagnosis. Dr. Knott observed Cline had normal motor strength in her upper extremities and some weakness in her hip flexion, left knee, and ankle. Dr. Knott found normal deep tendon reflexes in Cline's upper extremities, scattered deficits in her lower extremities with no neurologic pattern, a normal range of motion in her lumbar spine with complaints of stiffness, and an abnormal lumbar extension. Dr. Knott concluded Cline could frequently lift and carry up to ten pounds and occasionally lift and carry up to twenty pounds; stand and walk for two hours during an eight-hour day; sit for six hours during an eight-hour day; but should never balance, stoop, or crouch, and should avoid all exposure to heights.

On August 27, 2007, Steven Harris, Ph.D., a certified mental-health examiner, examined Cline at the request of the Social Security Administration. Based on Cline's responses to diagnostic testing, Dr. Harris concluded Cline exaggerated her clinical symptoms and possibly overemphasized her chronic pain, " either consciously or unconsciously."

From November 2008 to March 2010, Henry Allen, M.D., treated Cline for lower back pain. In March 2010, Dr. Allen completed a medical source statement. Relying on Cline's subjective complaints of pain, Dr. Allen opined Cline could frequently lift and carry ten pounds; sit three hours of an eight-hour workday; and stand or walk three hours of an eight-hour workday. Dr. Allen further stated Cline should not climb or balance and only occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, or bend. Dr. Allen based his opinion on the 2005 " CT scan with disc bulge at L5-S1 of lumbar spine, osteoarthritis, [and] possible fibromyalgia."

On June 18, 2009, Cline saw Gina McNew, M.D., to treat her chronic lower back pain and for a second opinion about fibromyalgia. Dr. McNew noted mild ...

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