United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
KARIN B. NOVICK PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,  Commissioner Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Karin B. Novick, appearing pro se, 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 her claims for
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).
protectively filed her current application for DIB on
December 26, 2012, alleging an inability to work since
December 21, 2007, due to celiac/gluten sensitivity, a
ruptured and bulging disc in the neck, dry eyes, headaches,
asthma, vocal cord dysfunction, allergies, anaphylaxis, hand
eczema, malaise and chronic fatigue. (Tr. 89, 194). For DIB
purposes, Plaintiff maintained insured status through
December 31, 2013. (Tr. 24, 57, 201). An administrative video
hearing was held on July 29, 2015, at which Plaintiff
appeared with counsel and testified. (Tr. 47-87).
written decision dated August 7, 2015, the ALJ found that
during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an impairment
or combination of impairments that were severe. (Tr. 26).
Specifically, the ALJ found that through her date last
insured Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
essential hypertension, degenerative disc disease of the
cervical spine, and neurodermatitis. However, after reviewing
all of the evidence presented, the ALJ determined that
through the date last insured, 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. (Tr. 27). The ALJ found that
through the date last insured, Plaintiff retained the
residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform light work as
defined in 20 C.F.R. §404.1567(b). (Tr. 27). With the
help of a vocational expert, the ALJ determined that through
her date last insured, Plaintiff could perform her past
relevant work as a title researcher and an attorney. (Tr.
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied that request on August 23,
2016. (Tr. 4-9). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action.
(Doc. 1). Both parties have filed appeal briefs, and the case
is now before the undersigned for report and recommendation.
(Docs. 10, 11).
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.
administrative hearing held on July 29, 2015, Plaintiff
testified that she was forty-eight years of age and had
earned a law degree. (Tr. 53, 80-81). Plaintiff's past
work consists of work as a title searcher and an attorney.
pertinent medical evidence during the relevant time period
reflects the following. On March 6, 2008, Plaintiff
established care with Dr. Tina Hatley of The Allergy and
Asthma Clinic of Northwest Arkansas. (Tr. 431, 433-450).
Treatment notes indicated Plaintiff would undergo lab work.
March 6, 2008, Plaintiff also underwent a pulmonary function
test. (Tr. 451). Plaintiff was found to have normal
April 6, 2008, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Tina Merritt of The
Allergy and Asthma Clinic of Northwest Arkansas. (Tr. 432).
Dr. Merritt noted Plaintiff had a history of wheat and dairy
intolerance. Plaintiff reported she had been avoiding both
wheat and dairy since 2006, but was still experiencing
gastrointestinal symptoms. Plaintiff also reported a history
of Reynaud's and eczema, as well as pain in her hands.
April 21, 2008, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Timothy W. Yawn for
a follow-up for her hypertension. (Tr. 465-470, 479-480,
547-549). Plaintiff reported she started taking the Dyazide
two weeks ago even though it was prescribed in October.
Plaintiff denied headaches but reported experiencing
dizziness. Upon examination, Dr. Yawn noted no abnormality of
the eyes. Plaintiff had good peripheral pulses and a skin
examination was normal. Plaintiff was assessed with
hypertension, asthma and abdominal bloating with a positive
gluten sensitivity. Dr. Yawn noted he would refer Plaintiff
for a gastroenterology consult.
August 25, 2008, Plaintiff complained of an aggravation of
eczema on her hands. (Tr. 482-487). Plaintiff was assessed
with eczema with the areas of apparent neurodermatitis.
Plaintiff was advised not to scratch the areas and to use
ointment and Zyrtec. There was discussion that Plaintiff
might undergo specialty testing.
January 5, 2009, Plaintiff complained of a rash on her upper
extremity and hand. (Tr. 502-503). Plaintiff was noted to
have a long history of what Plaintiff believed to be atopic
dermatitis limited to her hands and forearms. Plaintiff
thought the lesions were related to a variety of allergies.
Plaintiff presented with approximately fifteen pages of
hand-written notes of her medical history. Upon examination,
Plaintiff's mood and affect were within normal limits
without unusual depression, anxiety or agitation. The
examiner opined that Plaintiff's history was most
suggestive of dyshidrosis. The examiner did not think
Plaintiff's symptoms were consistent with atopy, systemic
allergy or contact dermatitis, including airborne. Plaintiff
did not agree with the examiner. It was recommended that
Plaintiff follow-up with her regular dermatologist in
27, 2010, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Mark F. Olsen. (Tr.
508-509, 550). Plaintiff reported that she had food allergies
and had been feeling fatigued. Plaintiff also requested
medication refills. After examining Plaintiff, Dr. Olsen
diagnosed her with chronic abdominal pain/gas/bloating. Dr.
Olsen recommended treating Plaintiff for intestinal yeast for
one to two months.
September 24, 2010, Plaintiff called Dr. Olsen's office
and reported she felt better when she was taking diflucan
daily, and wanted to know if she could continue to take it
daily. (Tr. 510). Plaintiff also reported that the only thing
that gave her consistent energy was refined sugar or Imodium.
April 3, 2013, Plaintiff complained of a swollen white part
of the eye in her left eye. (Tr. 513-515). Plaintiff was
unsure if she should be wearing contact lenses. Dr. Eric
Jerde diagnosed Plaintiff with moderate MGD; a conjunctival
cyst, mild; myopia; and mild lid ptosis.
letter dated April 10, 2013, Dr. Jerde stated he was sending
Plaintiff to Dr. Sines office for a lid ptosis evaluation.
(Tr. 511-512, 516). Dr. Jerde noted Plaintiff attributed her
symptoms to her celiac disease and was somewhat convinced she
may have ocular myasthenia. Dr. Jerde opined that