United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
ERIN L. SETSER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Thomas Ray Baker, 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 his claims for a period of disability
and disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental
security income (SSI) benefits under the provisions of Titles
II and XVI 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. §
filed his applications for DIB and SSI on November 7, 2012,
alleging disability since April 26, 2012, due to lower back
pain, left side hernia, chronic pain, colitis/IBS, chronic
fatigue, asthma, and high blood pressure. (Doc. 12, pp.
112-113, 215-227, 257, 263). An administrative hearing was
held on December 2, 2013, at which Plaintiff appeared with
counsel and testified. (Doc. 12, pp. 44-111).
written decision dated May 2, 2014, the ALJ found that during
the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an impairment or
combination of impairments that were severe - degenerative
disc disease of the lumbar spine, obesity, hypertension,
asthma with recurrent bronchitis, and a history of bilateral
inguinal hernia repairs. (Doc. 12, p. 34). 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.
(Doc. 12, p. 36). The ALJ found Plaintiff retained the
residual functional capacity (RFC) to:
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b). He can occasionally climb ramps and stairs,
balance, stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl, but he must never
climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds. Additionally, he must
avoid concentrated exposure to temperature extremes,
humidity, fumes, odors, dusts, gases, poor ventilation and
hazards, including driving as a part of work.
(Doc. 12, p. 36). With the help of a vocational expert (VE),
the ALJ determined Plaintiff was capable of performing past
relevant work as a cashier/checker, as generally performed,
and a retails salesperson, as generally performed. (Doc. 12,
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied the request on July 22, 2015,
(Doc. 12, pp. 5-8). Subsequently Plaintiff filed this action.
(Doc. 1). Both parties have filed briefs and this case is
before the undersigned for report and recommendation. (Docs.
was born in 1981. In 2010, prior to the relevant time period
(April 26, 2012 through May 2, 2014), Plaintiff had a right
hernia repair performed by Dr. Jeffrey Bell. (Doc. 12, pp.
311, 348). Also in 2010, Plaintiff saw Kirk Johnson, DC, a
chiropractor, who reported that Plaintiff was under his care
for recurring intervertebral disc syndrome, which caused
“acute, debilitating low back pain.” (Doc. 12, p.
450). On December 2, 2011, Plaintiff underwent a
Psychological Screening Evaluation - Rehabilitation Initial
Diagnosis and Assessment for Clients, by Letitia C. Hitz,
Ph.D. (Doc. 12, p. 559). Dr. Hitz diagnosed Plaintiff with
mathematics disorder and disorder of written expression.
(Doc. 12, p. 561). In 2011 and 2012, Dr. Charles R. Belt
diagnosed Plaintiff with various maladies, including:
insomnia; back pain; seborrheic dermatitis; sebaceous cyst;
folliculitis; tonsillitis; headache; gastroenteritis; and
hypertension. (Doc. 12, pp. 350-355).
April 26, 2012, while working at the University of Arkansas,
Plaintiff was moving equipment and felt a pop in his right
groin. (Doc. 12, p. 346). Plaintiff saw Dr. David Beck on
April 27, 2012, and was diagnosed with muscle strain-groin
and folliculitis. (Doc. 12, p. 348). Plaintiff again saw Dr.
Beck on April 30, 2012, for an initial assessment for
Worker's Compensation, and Dr. Beck reported that he was
concerned about possible disruption of Plaintiff's
previous hernia repair, and concluded that Plaintiff had, at
the very least, muscle strain of the groin. (Doc. 12, p.
347). He diagnosed Plaintiff with muscle strain of the groin,
folliculitis, and right lower quadrant abdominal pain, and
Dr. Beck instructed Plaintiff to refrain from lifting
anything weighing more than 10 pounds. (Doc. 12, p. 347). On
May 7, 2012, Dr. Beck reported that Plaintiff needed an
extension to refrain off work, because he had an appointment
with Dr. Jeffrey Bell the next day to discuss possible
surgery. (Doc. 12, p. 345).
8, 2012, Plaintiff saw Dr. Bell, and denied arthralgias, back
pain, bone pain, muscle pain, myalgias, joint pain, joint
swelling, muscle cramps or muscle weakness. (Doc. 12, p.
324). That same day, Dr. Bell wrote a letter to Dr. Belt,
stating that on physical exam, there was some tenderness to
palpation, but no clear inguinal hernia, and that he
recommended a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis. (Doc. 12, p.
359). A CT of Plaintiff's abdomen and pelvis was
performed on May 11, 2012, with the following impression:
1. No acute inflammatory process in the abdomen ...