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Holliman v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas

November 15, 2016

GLENNA HOLLIMAN PLAINTIFF
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION DEFENDANT

          ORDER

         I. Introduction:

         Plaintiff, Glenna Holliman, applied for disability benefits on February 8, 2013, alleging a disability onset date of December 1, 2009. (Tr. at 27). After conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied her application. (Tr. at 38). The Appeals Council denied her request for review. (Tr. at 1) The ALJ's decision now stands as the final decision of the Commissioner, and Holliman has requested judicial review.

         For the reasons stated below, the Court[1] affirms the decision of the Commissioner.

         II. The Commissioner's Decision:

         The ALJ found that Holliman had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the onset date of December 1, 2009. (Tr. at 29). The ALJ found at Step Two that Holliman had the following severe impairments: Bipolar Disorder, Panic Disorder, and PTSD. Id. At Step Three, the ALJ determined that Holliman's impairments did not meet or equal a listed impairment. (Tr. at 31). Before proceeding to Step Four, the ALJ determined that Holliman had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform the full range of work at all exertional levels except for the following limitations: 1) only simple, routine, and repetitive tasks; and 2) only incidental interpersonal contact where supervision is simple, direct, and concrete. (Tr. at 33). Next, the ALJ found that Holliman is capable of performing past relevant work as a housekeeper. (Tr. at 37). The sequential evaluation, therefore, ended at Step Four and the ALJ found that Holliman was not disabled. (Tr. at 38).

         III. Discussion:

         A. Standard of Review

         The Court's role is to determine whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial evidence. Prosch v. Apfel, 201 F.3d 1010, 1012 (8th Cir. 2000). “Substantial evidence” in this context means less than a preponderance but more than a scintilla. Slusser v. Astrue, 557 F.3d 923, 925 (8th Cir. 2009). In other words, it is “enough that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the ALJ's decision.” Id. (citation omitted). The Court must consider not only evidence that supports the Commissioner's decision, but also evidence that supports a contrary outcome. The Court cannot reverse the decision, however, “merely because substantial evidence exists for the opposite decision.” Long v. Chater, 108 F.3d 185, 187 (8th Cir. 1997) (quoting Johnson v. Chater, 87 F.3d 1015, 1017 (8th Cir. 1996)).

         B. Holliman's Arguments on Appeal

         Holliman argues that substantial evidence does not support the ALJ's decision to deny benefits. She contends that the ALJ erred in holding that her shoulder pain did not impose significant limitations on her ability to work. If the ALJ had found the shoulder pain to be a severely limiting impairment, Holliman argues, she could not have returned to past relevant work or perform any other jobs. Finally, Holliman asserts that the ALJ failed to give proper weight to Holliman's Global Assessment of Functioning (“GAF”) scores.

         The medical evidence simply does not support Holliman's complaints of disabling pain related to her shoulder. She sought treatment in August 2010 for shoulder pain radiating into her chest. (Tr. at 331). X-rays were negative. (Tr. at 337). Holliman said her pain improved when medicated, and there was no shoulder diagnosis. I d . Impairments that are controllable or amendable to treatment do not support a finding of total disability. Mittlestedt v. Apfel, 204 F.3d 847, 852 (8th Cir. 2000).

         On November 7, 2012, Holliman saw Dr. Miguel Casillas, M.D., and he noted that she was reluctant to seek medical help despite frequent pain. A failure to treat a condition is grounds for the ALJ ruling out the condition as a severe impairment. Smith v. Shalala, 987 F.2d 1371, 1374 (8th Cir. 1993).

         On April 16, 2013, state agency physician Dr. Roger Troxel, M.D., examined Holliman and found normal range of motion and no decreased ability to walk, stand, sit, lift, carry, handle, finger, see, hear, or speak. He did not diagnose shoulder pain. (Tr. at 410).

         On November 4 and November 16, 2013, Holliman visited Corning Area Healthcare for shoulder pain. She had intermittent numbness and bluish discoloration. (Tr. at 445-450). Her range of motion was limited. Sensory and motor exams were normal. Id. ...


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