United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division
PATRICIA S. HARRIS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
following Recommended Disposition
(“Recommendation”) has been sent to United States
District Judge J. Leon Holmes. You may file written
objections to all or part of this Recommendation. If you do
so, those objections must: (1) specifically explain the
factual and/or legal basis for your objection; and (2) be
received by the Clerk of this Court within fourteen (14) days
of this Recommendation. By not objecting, you may waive the
right to appeal questions of fact.
FOR RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION
Howe applied for social security disability benefits with an
alleged disability onset date of January 1, 1990. (R. at
116). She filed her application on March 14, 2012. (R. at
116). After a hearing, the administrative law judge (ALJ)
denied benefits. (R. at 23). The Appeals Council denied her
request for review . (R. at 1). The ALJ's decision thus
stands as the Commissioner's final decision, and Howe has
requested judicial review.
reasons stated below, the magistrate judge recommends
affirming the Commissioner's decision.
The Commissioner's Decision
found that Howe had the severe impairments of mild
degenerative disk disease, anxiety disorder NOS, and pain
disorder associated with both medical and psychological
factors. (R. at 13). The ALJ noted that there was a lack of
clinical evidence to support the diagnoses of hepatitis C,
rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia, and so determined
that these were neither severe nor medically determinable
impairments. (R. at 13). The ALJ determined that Howe's
impairments left her with the residual functional capacity
(RFC) to lift and carry 10 pounds occasionally and less than
10 pounds frequently; stand and/or walk two hours, with a
cane, in an eight-hour workday; sit for six hours in an
eight-hour workday with the option to alternate sitting and
standing for intervals of 15 minutes; push and/or pull 10
pounds occasionally and less than 10 pounds frequently;
understand, remember, and carry out simple job instructions;
make judgments in simple work-related situations; respond
appropriately to coworkers/supervisors with occasional
incidental contact that is not necessary to perform the work;
and respond appropriately to minor changes in usual work
routine. (R. at 15-16). Howe had no past relevant work. (R.
at 21). The ALJ questioned a vocational expert, who indicated
that a person of Howe's age, education, work experience,
and RFC could perform jobs such as document preparer or table
worker. (R. at 22). The ALJ therefore held that Howe was not
disabled. (R. at 22-23).
Summary of Medical Evidence
was born on April 15, 1971. (R. at 116). She has no
significant work history. (R. at 122-25).
evidence shows that she complained of severe joint pain and
stiffness as far back as 2006 to Anna Redman, M.D. (R. at
512). This evidence was not presented to the ALJ but was
presented to the Appeals Council. (R. at 5).
has seen her primary care physician, Paul W. Davis, M.D.,
since at least 2011. (R. at 236). Dr. Davis noted a history
of hepatitis C, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia,
generalized anxiety disorder, and hypothyroidism on November
30, 2011. (R. at 237). On December 12, 2011, Dr. Davis noted
that Howe had used a month's supply of Xanax and
Hydrocodone in two weeks and that he was considering letting
her go as a patient. (R. at 236). On December 19, 2011, he
noted that there had been a misunderstanding and that Howe
could continue as his patient. (R. at 235). Dr. Davis
prescribed Percocet on February 1, 2012 when Howe presented
with severe pain in her left leg after a fall. (R. at 235).
Dr. Davis refused to refill the Percocet on February 13, 2012
when Howe said that she had once again hurt her leg. (R. at
presented to the emergency room at Jefferson Regional Medical
Center on March 15, 2012, complaining of chest pains and a
possible stomach infection. (R. at 288). The record reflects
that Howe had misused cocaine, crack, and methamphetamine in
the past but had quit. (R. at 289). She demonstrated normal
strength and range of motion. (R. at 289). She was diagnosed
with constipation and chest wall pain. (R. at 291). She
presented crying and emotionally labile on April 12, 2012,
and Dr. Davis noted that labs were pending. (R. at 335).
After Howe called in crying on April 23, 2012, Dr. Davis
suggested Zoloft. (R. at 335). On May 16, 2012, Howe called
Dr. Davis about a fall she suffered the day before,
complaining of a problem with her hand and a wrist injury.
(R. at 334). She visited Dr. Davis the next day, and he noted
contusions on her legs and that she stated she could not
afford the Zoloft he had previously prescribed. (R. at 334).
On July 18, 2012, Howe asked to see a pain doctor due to
worsening pain and reported that her rheumatologist could not
help her because of her hepatitis. (R. at 332).
visited the emergency room of Jefferson Regional Medical
Center on August 5, 2012 with complaints of chest pain. (R.
at 257). She was diagnosed with back pain and dysmenorrhea.
(R. at 259). She presented again on ...