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Hayes v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division

April 7, 2016

CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.


ERIN L. SETSER, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Bessie Mae Hayes, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §405(g), seeking judicial review of a decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (Commissioner) denying her claim for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits (DIB) under the provisions of Title II of the Social Security Act (Act). In this judicial review, the Court must determine whether there is substantial evidence in the administrative record to support the Commissioner's decision. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

I. Procedural Background:

Plaintiff filed her application for DIB on November 15, 2012, alleging disability since September 26, 2012, [1] due to poor memory, anxiety, manic depressive disorder, glaucoma, and high blood pressure. (Tr. 140-146, 170, 174). An administrative hearing was held on December 9, 2013, at which Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified. (Tr. 23-43).

By written decision dated May 23, 2014, the ALJ found that during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an impairment or combination of impairments that were severe - hypertension, hearing loss, glaucoma, obesity, and mood disorder. (Tr. 10). However, after reviewing all of the evidence presented, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or equal the level of severity of any impairment listed in the Listing of Impairments found in Appendix I, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4. (Tr. 11). The ALJ found Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to:

perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations: the claimant cannot perform work that would require excellent hearing but can perform work requiring only frequent near and far acuity and is able to occasionally operate foot controls bilaterally. Nonexertionally, the claimant can perform work in which interpersonal contact is incidental to the work performed and the complexity of tasks is learned and performed by rote, with few variables and little judgment. The supervision required is simple, direct and concrete.

(Tr. 12). With the help of a vocational expert (VE), the ALJ determined Plaintiff was capable of performing her past relevant work as a fiber gluer. (Tr. 18).

Plaintiff then requested a review of the hearing decision by the Appeals Council, which denied the request on July 23, 2015. (Tr. 1-3). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action. (Doc. 1). Both parties have filed briefs and this case is before the undersigned for report and recommendation. (Docs. 11, 12).

II. Evidence Presented:

Plaintiff was born in 1949, and prior to her onset date of November 1, 2012, had been treated by Dr. Philip Elangwe, of Family Medical Care Clinic, Dr. Donald Chambers, Dr. Robert Knox, of the Eye Group, and Dr. Andrew W. Lawton, of Neuro-Ophthalmology, for abdominal pain, dysthymic disorder, hypertension, esophageal reflux, glaucoma, depression, and hyperlipidemia. (Tr. 262, 264, 267-268, 271, 273, 276-283, 288, 296-301, 303, 336, 359-360, 385-387).

Subsequent to her onset date, Plaintiff continued seeing Dr. Chambers concerning her depression. On November 7, 2012, Dr. Chambers reported that Plaintiff had been off work for six months and did not think she was going back. He reported that she had been worsening steadily with her husband's dying process and that by the time it finally happened, she mentally collapsed and had not made any significant recovery. (Tr. 338). Dr. Chambers adjusted her medication, and noted that she lost her train of thought and had difficulty getting things done. (Tr. 338).

Plaintiff presented herself to Dr. Elangwe on November 28, 2012, with problems relating to mixed hyperlipidemia, essential hypertension, unspecified, and lumbago. (Tr. 305). On November 29, 2012, Plaintiff saw Dr. Chambers, complaining of having a "spell" of her eyes jerking. (Tr. 340). Dr. Chambers believed she was having a sleep phenomenon that caused the spell, her medication was adjusted, and she was to return in one month. (Tr. 340).

On November 30, 2012, Dr. Elangwe reported that Plaintiff's hypertension was well controlled, and that Plaintiff's lab results were essentially normal except for a fasting glucose of 119. (Tr. 306). Plaintiff was diagnosed with essential hypertension, unspecified, lumbago, and mixed hyperlipidemia. (T. 306). Dr. Elangwe again reported that Plaintiff's hypertension was well controlled on December 12, 2012. (Tr. 371). At that visit, Dr. Elangwe reported that Plaintiff's hemoglobin A1C was 6.9, and her glucose was 119. Plaintiff told Dr. Elangwe that she normally just ate one meal per day, sometimes she ate breakfast, but mostly ate one meal a day. She reported she still had some anxiety, but was working through it. (Tr. 371). Plaintiff was diagnosed with essential hypertension, unspecified; lumbago; mixed hyperlipidemia; and diabetes mellitus without mention of complication, Type II or unspecified type, not stated as uncontrolled. (Tr. 372). Dr. Elangwe reported that he discussed with Plaintiff the lifestyle changes that would be reasonable to try to bring her glucose under better control. Plaintiff responded that she felt like she probably would not do that and would rather just try medication. He discussed with her the need to eat at least three meals per day and how that could help her with her weight gain, and also discussed exercise and taking Metformin every morning. Plaintiff preferred to do that rather than make the lifestyle changes. (Tr. 372).

On December 19, 2012, Dr. Chambers reported that Plaintiff would not be returning to work as a CNA at Sparks Hospital, and that she could not remember what she was supposed to do, could not concentrate on what ...

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