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Boyd v. Colvin

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

August 5, 2016

Willie B. Boyd, Jr. Plaintiff- Appellant
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Defendant-Appellee

          Submitted: March 17, 2016

         Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas

          Before WOLLMAN, ARNOLD, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

          SHEPHERD, Circuit Judge.

         Willie Boyd, Jr. appeals the district court's[1] decision upholding the Commissioner's denial of supplemental security income (SSI) and disability insurance benefits (DIB). Upon de novo review of the district court's decision upholding the Administrative Law Judge's denial of benefits, see Anderson v. Astrue, 696 F.3d 790, 793 (8th Cir. 2012), we affirm.


         Boyd filed his applications for SSI and DIB benefits on October 31, 2011 alleging disability from August 11, 2011 due to diabetes mellitus, heart problems, fatigue, and chest, back and leg pain. After his applications were denied initially and after reconsideration, he received a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) on May 28, 2013. Boyd was represented by counsel at the hearing. On July 24, 2013 the ALJ issued a written decision finding that Boyd was not disabled and denying his applications for SSI and DIB benefits. The Appeals counsel denied Boyd's request for review, thus the ALJ's decision stands as the final decision of the Commissioner. See Davidson v. Astrue, 501 F.3d 987, 989 (8th Cir. 2007). Boyd sought judicial review, and the district court affirmed the Commissioner's decision.

         The relevant medical record reveals that in April 2007, Boyd sought medical attention for angina equivalent symptoms. A history of hypertension, Type II diabetes mellitus, and heart murmur was noted. A history taken by Norman Pledger, M.D., reflected that Boyd had recently stopped smoking but continued to smoke marijuana "almost on a daily basis." He noted that Boyd worked as a truck driver. He was treated with aspirin and prescribed sublingual nitroglycerin; a stress test and echocardiogram were ordered. Boyd was encouraged to stop smoking and avoid drug and alcohol use. He was to return for followup in six weeks. A cardiac catheritization, performed on April 20, 2007, showed non-ischemic cardiomyopathy.

         In October 2007, a consultative examination by Joel Cobb, M.D., showed diabetes, paresthesia in Boyd's hands and feet, cardiomyopathy, hypertension, and chest pain. Boyd was found to have a decreased range of motion in his cervical spine, lumbar spine, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, hips, knees, and ankles. Paresthesia was present in Boyd's fingertips. He showed no joint abnormalities, muscle spasms, muscle weakness, or muscle atrophy, and he exhibited normal deep tendon reflexes, gait, and coordination. Dr. Cobb assessed mild limitation with lifting, carrying, and squatting repeatedly. In March 2010, Dr. Cobb again evaluated Boyd and diagnosed Type II diabetes mellitus, hypertention, diabetic peripheral neuropathy, and chronic fatigue. He limited Boyd to "[m]oderate lifting, carrying which likely would improve with better management of blood sugars."

         On December 21, 2010, January 5, 2011, and April 4, 2011, Linda Cabine, a nurse practitioner, saw Boyd for diabetes, erectile dysfunction, and hypertension. In December 2010 and January 2011, she noted that Boyd was still smoking. On all three examinations she recorded that Boyd appeared well and was in no acute distress. In November 2011, Boyd saw nurse practitioner Kathy Woods for a medication check-up. It was noted that Boyd had not visited the clinic in six months and that he was positive for twice per week chest pain, muscle cramps, and pain but negative for fatigue and exhibited no clubbing, cyanosis, or edema. Nurse Kelly assessed diabetes mellitus.

         Chrystal Johnson, M.D., performed a consultative examination on January 26, 2012. Dr. Johnson noted that Boyd complained of diabetes mellitus, chronic pain in his legs and back, difficulty sleeping, headaches, poor vision, peripheral vascular disease, an inability to walk more than five to ten feet, moderate to severe pain in the middle of his back to his toes, and sharp chest pain that occurred twice a week. Boyd had decreased range of motion in his left shoulder, right knee, and both ankles. He showed tenderness to palpitation of his shoulders, wrists, hips, and ankles. Dr. Johnson also noted that Boyd had decreased reflexes in his biceps, triceps, patella, and Achilles tendon. Boyd could tandem walk slowly, but he was not able to walk on his heels or toes or squat and arise from a squatting position. Bilateral dorsalis pedis pulse were absent, and he had trace edema in the left lower extremity and stasis dermatitis in both lower extremities. Dr. Johnson diagnosed: heart disease, leg pain with vascular disease, chest pain, arthralgias, diabetes mellitus, and hypertension. She noted that Boyd had severe limitation in his ability to walk, stand, sit, lift, carry, handle, finger, see, speak, and hear.

         A state agency doctor, Larry Sauer, M.D., completed a review of Boyd's medical records in February 2012, although he did not examine Boyd. Dr. Sauer reported that Boyd had no postural or manipulative limitations and could occasionally lift and carry ten pounds, frequently lift and carry less than ten pounds, sit six hours, and stand/walk two hours during an eight hour workday.

         In April 2012, Boyd was treated for chest pain in the emergency room at Baptist Health Medical Center, North Little Rock, Arkansas. A cardiac catheterization was performed which revealed non-ischemic cardiomyopathy and minimal coronary artery disease. He was treated with medication and instructed that he should not lift, drive, or engage in strenuous exercise for two days and follow-up in two months.

         A hearing before an ALJ was conducted on May 28, 2013. Boyd appeared represented by counsel and testified. Boyd testified that he was 44 years of age as of the date of the hearing and has a general equivalency degree. He last worked in May 2011 as a warehouse worker and driver. He was incarcerated for 22 months for possession of cocaine and was released on August 24, 2009. He was subsequently arrested for possession of marijuana. He was on parole as of the date of the hearing. Boyd testified that he is prevented from working by diabetes; high blood pressure; and pain in his arms, left shoulder, feet, and legs. He stated that he experiences chest pain twice a day and constant pain in his legs, feet, ankles, and hands. He further stated that his feet and hands swell and he can not perform a job that requires him to answer the phone or use a keyboard due to constant pain. He uses the restroom two times an hour and urinates on himself at least once per day because he is unable to make it to the restroom. Boyd testified that he spends most of each day sitting or lying down due to pain and swelling in his feet and legs, and he is unable to drive. He further stated that he has trouble sleeping three times a week and sometimes oversleeps. Boyd's wife testified that it is her understanding that Boyd spends most of his day sitting and lying around, complaining about pain. She stated that Boyd has difficulty walking and standing due to swelling in his feet, and he is unable to do housework.

         A vocational expert ("VE") testified and noted that Boyd has relevant past work as a delivery truck driver and front-end loader operator which is medium, semiskilled work. The ALJ posed a hypothetical question to the VE which included the residual functional capacity ("RFC") of the full range of sedentary work with the ability to occasionally climb, balance, stoop, bend, crouch, kneel, and crawl. The VE testified that an individual with Boyd's age, education, work experience, and specified RFC could not perform Boyd's past relevant work but could perform other jobs in the regional and national economy such as unskilled sedentary assembly and inspecting jobs. According to the VE, a person with Boyd's age, education, work experience, and RFC can perform all of the unskilled, sedentary jobs in the assembly and inspecting larger job categories, for example, ...

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