Submitted: April 6, 2017
from United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Arkansas - Jonesboro
SMITH, Chief Judge, SHEPHERD, Circuit Judge, and FENNER,
SHEPHERD, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Bryant appeals the decision of the district
court affirming the decision of the Commissioner
to uphold the Administrative Law Judge's (ALJ) denial of
his application for disability insurance benefits (DIB) and
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under the Social Security
Act. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we
applied for DIB and SSI benefits alleging a disability onset
of May 25, 2012, due to a left leg injury, rheumatoid
arthritis, and gout. The ALJ denied his application.
Bryant's left leg history is as follows. On May 25, 2012,
Bryant, at 61 years of age, was involved in a motorcycle
accident resulting in a severely comminuted, closed, left
tibia/fibula fracture for which he underwent immediate
intramedullary nailing without complications. Bryant was
released by his orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Roy E. Cooper, to
"resume full work activities" on February 12,
2013-almost nine months after the left leg surgery. At that
time, Bryant reported that he was getting better, but
complained that he still had some swelling in the leg. Bryant
went back to work for one and one-half months, but according
to Bryant, he "had to retire because [his] leg was
swelling up too much and [he] could hardly walk." He did
not seek medical attention to address these complaints or try
to find another job. So, in May 2013, Bryant retired at the
age of 62.
retirement, Bryant lost his health insurance and waited
several months for Medicare to start before seeking further
treatment of his left leg. In January 2014, Dr. Cooper said
that the x-rays of his tibia/fibula fracture showed
"complete fracture union with excellent appearance of
the hardware." The cross-locking screws were removed
from his tibial nail in May 2014 because they were causing
him some discomfort in the area of the screw heads. The
following month, Bryant's primary doctor, Dr. Michael
Tedder, described his gait and range of motion as within
normal limits while also noting "normal
flexibility" and a "normal straight leg
raise." On July 28, 2014, Bryant reported that he was
"very happy and . . . is walking better and doing
better." Dr. Cooper again released him to "normal
activities" at that time.
twenty years, Bryant had a history of gout attacks which were
treated intermittently with allopurinol and decadron. His
good work history indicates that these gout attacks did not
cause him to miss work generally. Some of these attacks
occurred while he was recovering from the motorcycle
accident. One such attack involved his left ankle and was
treated by Dr. Tedder by restarting the allopurinol and
decadron on October 19, 2012; no work restrictions were
placed on him by Dr. Tedder. Another gout attack affecting
his ankles and left great toe was treated by Dr. Tedder in
January 2013 with the same medications and without any work
has a maternal history of rheumatoid arthritis, but evidence
is lacking that he has the disorder. His rheumatoid factor
was negative on October 19, 2012, and the doctor did not
include rheumatoid arthritis as a diagnosis in the subsequent
visits. Bryant later claimed the classification as
"rheumatoid" was a "layman's
misunderstanding, " and pointed to x-rays in December
2011 showing some degenerative changes in his right knee and
a CT scan in May 2012 showing some degenerative changes in
his neck. However, the record does not indicate that the
doctors considered these issues disabling, or that they were
even actively being treated at all.
had other complaints which were considered, along with the
ones listed on his application. For example, he was treated
for cataracts and diabetes mellitus type II.
reviewing the record and after conducting a hearing (on
February 19, 2014) including testimony by Bryant and a
vocational expert cross-examined by Bryant's counsel, the
ALJ determined that Bryant "is not disabled under . . .
the Social Security Act, " and therefore, DIB and SSI
benefits were denied.
parties consented in writing to the jurisdiction of a United
States Magistrate Judge. The Magistrate Judge affirmed the
ALJ's decision, finding "substantial evidence"
to support the conclusion that Bryant was not ...