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Robinson v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division

January 3, 2017

CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner Social Security Administration DEFENDANT



         Plaintiff, Jerry Robinson, 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) 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 protectively filed his current application for DIB on March 23, 2013, alleging an inability to work since September 7, 2012, due to anxiety, depression, diabetes, Hepatitis C, hypertension, and anal bleeding. (Doc. 12, p. 23, 67, 145). An administrative video hearing was held on July 22, 2014, at which Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified. (Doc. 12, pp. 33-67).

         By written decision dated November 7, 2014, the ALJ found that during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an impairment or combination of impairments that were severe. (Doc. 12, p. 19). Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: a musculoskeletal disorder (osteoarthritis and associated disorder, degenerative joint disease), a digestive disorder (chronic liver disease, hepatitis C), an endocrine disorder (diabetes mellitus), a cardiovascular disorder (hypertension), and obesity. (Doc. 12, p. 19). 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. 22). The ALJ found Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to:

perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except as following (sic): The claimant can frequently lift and/or carry ten pounds and occasionally twenty pounds, sit for a total of six hours in an eight hour workday, and stand and/or walk for a total of six hours in an eight hour workday. The claimant can occasionally climb ramps or stars (sic), balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. The claimant can occasionally climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds.

(Doc. 12, p. 22). With the help of a vocational expert, the ALJ determined Plaintiff could perform work as a file clerk, a bill collector, and a household appliance assembler. (Doc. 12, p. 27).

         Plaintiff then requested a review of the hearing decision by the Appeals Council, which after reviewing additional evidence submitted by Plaintiff, denied that request on July 24, 2015. (Doc. 12, pp. 5-10). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action. (Doc. 1). Both parties have filed appeal briefs, and the case is before the undersigned for report and recommendation. (Docs. 9, 11).

         The Court has reviewed the entire transcript. The complete set of facts and arguments are presented in the parties' briefs, and are repeated here only to the extent necessary.

         II. Evidence Presented:

         At the time of the administrative video hearing on July 22, 2014, Plaintiff was fifty-two years of age and had obtained an eleventh grade formal education. (Doc. 12, p. 39). Plaintiff testified that he had earned his GED, and had attended Vo-tech classes. (Doc. 12, pp. 39-40).

         The pertinent medical evidence in this case reflects the following. On September 27, 2012, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. John A. Huskins for a follow up appointment. (Doc. 12, p. 282). Dr. Huskins noted Plaintiff had multiple medical problems which included elevated lipids, elevated liver function tests, and elevated blood sugar in the past. Plaintiff was noted to have chronic neck and back pain. Dr. Huskins discussed his medical problems and work up and referral options.

         On October 17, 2012, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Huskins for a follow up appointment. (Doc. 12, pp. 269-270). Dr. Huskins noted Plaintiff was on medication for neck and back pain, and for elevated blood sugar and blood pressure. Dr. Huskins noted that a recent pre-employment exam showed that Plaintiff's sugar was elevated. Upon examination, Dr. Huskins noted Plaintiff's chest was clear and his heart exhibited a normal rate without murmur. Dr. Huskins noted he discussed Plaintiff's cardiovascular, “knee plastic screen, ” and end organ damage with Plaintiff.

         On December 20, 2012, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Huskins to discuss lab results. (Doc. 12, pp. 271). Plaintiff reported his sugars had been low at home so he ate candy. Dr. Huskins told Plaintiff to eat complex carbohydrates if his sugar was low. Routine health care was discussed with Plaintiff.

         On March 20, 2013, Plaintiff reported that he was driving a truck and had experienced blurred vision. (Doc. 12, pp. 272-273). Dr. Huskins noted Plaintiff had troubling controlling his blood sugars. Dr. Huskins discussed the risks of being on chronic narcotics with Plaintiff. Dr. Huskins recommended Plaintiff diet and exercise, and that he avoid tobacco.

         On June 18, 2013, Plaintiff underwent a consultative mental diagnostic evaluation performed by Dr. Mary J. Sonntag. (Doc. 12, pp. 283-287). When asked what mental limitations kept him from working, Plaintiff reported that he had no energy and that he was depressed. Plaintiff reported that he went to school to obtain his CDL, but once he was behind the big rig he could not do the work. Plaintiff reported that he was depressed because he had acne, and that he was a felon, but he reported he had not been in trouble for over ten years. Plaintiff reported that he took Alprazolam that was prescribed by Dr. Huskins, and that he suffered no side effects and believed it helped. Plaintiff reported that he could perform activities of daily living without assistance. Plaintiff reported he was able to get along “alright” with coworkers and ...

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