Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Nowden v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division

January 23, 2017

SIDNEY NOWDEN PLAINTIFF
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

         Plaintiff Sidney Nowden (“Nowden”) began the case at bar by filing a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 405(g). In the complaint, he challenged the final decision of the Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“Commissioner”), a decision based upon findings made by an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”).

         Nowden maintains that the ALJ's findings are not supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole because Nowden's residual functional capacity was not properly assessed.[1] It is Nowden's position that “[t]here is no medical evidence addressing [his] ability to function in the workplace, other than the non-examining state agency physicians' opinions, ” see Document 11 at CM/ECF 9, and the ALJ did not rely upon those opinions in assessing Nowden's residual functional capacity.

         The ALJ is required to assess the claimant's residual functional capacity, which is a determination of “the most a person can do despite that person's limitations.” See Brown v. Barnhart, 390 F.3d 535, 538-39 (8th Cir. 2004). The assessment is made using all of the relevant evidence in the record, but the assessment must be supported by some medical evidence. See Wildman v. Astrue, 596 F.3d 959 (8th Cir. 2010). As a part of making the assessment, the ALJ is required to evaluate the claimant's credibility regarding his subjective complaints. See Pearsall v. Massanari, 274 F.3d 1211 (8th Cir. 2001). The ALJ makes that evaluation by considering the medical evidence and evidence of the claimant's “daily activities; duration, frequency, and intensity of pain; dosage and effectiveness of medication; precipitating and aggravating factors; and functional restrictions.” See Id. at 1218 [citing Polaski v. Heckler, 739 F.2d 1320 (8th Cir. 1984)].

         On August 22, 2012, Nowden filed an application seeking supplemental security income payments.[2] He alleged in the application that he is disabled on account of his right leg pain, hypertension, and neuropathy. His testimony during the administrative hearing was devoted primarily to his right knee and right wrist impairments, and his brief in this case is devoted entirely to those impairments. Accordingly, the Court will only consider the evidence relevant to Nowden's right knee and right wrist impairments.

         A summary of the medical evidence relevant to Nowden's right knee and right wrist impairments reflects that on January 22, 2010, he was seen for a consultative physical examination in connection with a prior application for disability benefits. See Transcript at 245-250. The attending physician recorded Nowden's medical history and noted, inter alia, that Nowden had undergone surgery in 1994 to repair a rupture to the Achilles tendon in his right foot. A physical examination revealed that although he had an abnormal gait, he had normal range of motion in all of his extremities. He also had normal grip strength in both of his wrists. The diagnoses included one of “right lower leg pain, ” but his disability was characterized as “minimal.” See Transcript at 249.

         On December 19, 2011, Nowden was seen by a registered nurse practitioner for complaints of, inter alia, pain and soreness in Nowden's right wrist and right knee. See Transcript at 257-258. No abnormal findings were made, although Nowden was diagnosed with “diffuse arthralgias, ” i.e., joint pain. He was prescribed medication and given injections for his pain.

         On October 26, 2012, and again on December 3, 2012, Nowden was seen by Dr. Bryan Raymundo, M.D., (“Raymundo”) for complaints of, inter alia, right knee pain. See Transcript at 262, 274-278. A physical examination revealed that Nowden had right knee “crepitus on flexion, ” a limited range of motion, and an inability to bear much weight on his right leg. See Transcript at 274. An X-ray of his right knee revealed evidence of “mild tricompartmental osteoarthritis.” See Transcript at 262. He was prescribed medication and referred to Dr. James Pollard, M.D., (“Pollard”).

         On November 28, 2012, Nowden was seen by Dr. Don Ball, M.D., (“Ball”) for a consultative examination. See Transcript at 267-271. Ball recorded Nowden's medical history and noted Nowden's reports of pain and weakness in his right leg and arthritis in his right knee. A physical examination revealed that although he walked with a limp and could only take two steps on his toes, he exhibited normal range of motion in all of his extremities and his posture and coordination were within normal limits. He also exhibited normal grip strength in both of his wrists. Ball's diagnoses included a diagnosis of an “old surgical repair [of Nowden's right] Achilles tendon.” See Transcript at 271.

         On January 10, 2013, Pollard saw Nowden for an evaluation of his right knee pain. See Transcript at 316-317. Pollard recorded Nowden's medical history and noted, inter alia, that Nowden had been having right knee pain for six months, the pain increased with weightbearing, and he sometimes walked with a cane. Pollard performed a physical examination and reviewed a series of X-rays. His impression was as follows: “[r]ight knee pain, exact etiology is not clear.” See Transcript at 317. Pollard prescribed medication, instructed Nowden on rehabilitation exercises, and ordered MRI testing of his right knee.

         MRI testing of Nowden's right knee was performed on January 16, 2013. See Transcript at 335-336. The results of the testing revealed a “[t]iny lateral meniscus tear, ” some “loose body in the posterior medial compartment, ” “[m]oderate to severe chondral thinning in the patellofemoral compartment with subjacent edematous marrow in the patella, ” “[s]prain of the medial collateral ligament, ” and “[p]atellar tendinosis.” See Transcript at 335.

         Pollard saw Nowden again on February 19, 2013, and February 28, 2013. See Transcript at 313-315, 309-311. Although Nowden could bear weight on his right leg, he continued to complain of right knee pain. Pollard opined that the pain was “probably secondary to early osteoarthritis of the patellofemoral joint.” See Transcript at 314. After discussing several treatment options with Pollard at both visits, Nowden elected to proceed with arthroscopy of his right knee.

         On March 5, 2013, Pollard performed arthroscopic surgery on Nowden's right knee. See Transcript at 327-331. Pollard saw Nowden for at least two post-operative examinations and noted that his pain had largely subsided. See Transcript at 340-341. At a March 15, 2013, post-operative examination, Pollard noted the following: “[Nowden] is doing well. His knee pain is better since surgery. He is ambulating full weight-bearing on the right leg without lateral aids.” See Transcript at 341. He was instructed to “work on a home program of knee rehabilitations exercises” and continue taking medication. See Transcript at 341. At an April 12, 2013, post-operative examination, Pollard noted the following: [Nowden] is doing very well with his right knee. His has minimal pain in the right knee.” See Transcript at 340. He exhibited full range of motion in his right knee, although he did have some palpable crepitus with active movement. Pollard opined that Nowden could “advance activities as tolerated.” See Transcript at 340.

         Nowden sought medical attention again for the pain in his right knee on July 20, 2013, and on December 5, 2013. See Transcript at 500-501 (07/20/2013), 349-350 (12/05/2013). A physical examination on July 20, 2013, revealed [right] knee crepitus on flexion and extension, ” limited range of motion, and an inability to bear “too much weight.” See Transcript at 500. He was prescribed medication and, at the second presentation, given a Kenelog injection.

         On May 6, 2014, and again on May 8, 2014, Nowden was seen by a registered nurse practitioner for complaints of pain and soreness in his right knee and right wrist. See Transcript at 347-349, 345-347. A physical examination revealed edema in both joints, and he was given medication. An x-ray of his right wrist revealed “[a]dvanced loss of joint space in the radiocarpal region.” See Transcript at 380. The interpreting physician also noted the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.