United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
REBECCA I. FRANCE PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Rebecca Ilene France, 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 a period of disability
and disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental
security income (SSI) under the provisions of Titles II and
XVI 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.
filed her application for DIB on July 7, 2014, and she also
filed an application for SSI on July 8, 2014. Plaintiff
originally alleged her disability began May 15, 2008, but she
later amended the alleged onset date of disability to July 1,
2013. (Tr. 271). She alleged disability due to irritable
bowel syndrome (with daily frequent bouts of diarrhea),
claustrophobia, seizure disorder, arthritis of the hip,
vertigo, peripheral arterial disease, osteoarthritis of the
back, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), severe ulcer,
morbid obesity, borderline diabetes, multiple allergy
problems, allergy induced asthma, double vision in right eye,
Bell's palsy, and vertigo. (Tr. 209, 272). An
administrative hearing was held on June 22, 2015, at which
Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified. (Tr. 30-76).
written decision dated September 24, 2015, the ALJ found that
during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an impairment
or combination of impairments that were severe. (Tr. 16).
Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the following
severe impairments: asthma, disorder of the back, irritable
bowel syndrome (IBS), headaches, obesity, and vertigo. (Tr.
16). 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. (Tr. 16). The ALJ found Plaintiff retained
the residual functional capacity (RFC) to:
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b) except that she is able to occasionally climb,
balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl but she must avoid
concentrated exposure to pulmonary irritants such as dust,
odors and gases; she must also avoid exposure to hazards such
as unprotected heights and moving machinery.
(Tr. 17). With the help of the vocational expert (VE), the
ALJ determined that during the relevant time period,
Plaintiff would be able to perform her past relevant work as
a certified medication technician and riveting machine
operator. (Tr. 21-22).
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied that request on September 22,
2016. (Tr. 1-6). 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. 13, 14).
time of the administrative hearing held on June 22, 2015,
Plaintiff was fifty-one years of age and had obtained an
associate's degree in business management. (Tr. 33).
Plaintiff's past relevant work consists of work as a
certified nursing assistant, certified medication technician,
and riveting machine operator. (Tr. 72).
review of the pertinent medical evidence reflects the
following. Plaintiff went to the emergency department of the
West Valley Medical Center on numerous occasions for medical
care. On June 4, 2008, Plaintiff complained of abdominal
pain. (Tr. 316). An electrocardiogram (EKG) was unremarkable.
(Tr. 317). Dr. John Mullins diagnosed her with abdominal pain
and ordered an ultrasound. (Tr. 314-323). The abdominal
ultrasound revealed that the liver was heterogeneous,
echogenic, and attenuating probably due to fatty liver, but
could also be cirrhosis, with borderline hepatomegaly. (Tr.
November 7, 2008, she reported having flank and chest pain.
(Tr. 327). A chest X-ray showed no acute disease. (Tr. 331).
Also, a computed tomography pulmonary angiogram (CTPA) of her
chest revealed no pulmonary emboli and her lungs were clear,
but there was mild hepatic steatosis and mild thoracic disc
degeneration. (Tr. 332-333).
6, 2009, Plaintiff was diagnosed with peptic ulcer disease.
(Tr. 338-342). On June 4, 2009, she complained of asthma
symptoms, and she was diagnosed with acute asthma
exacerbation. (Tr. 343-348). On May 5, 2010, she was
diagnosed with paronychia of the right great toe. (Tr.
349-353). On June 17, 2011, Plaintiff was diagnosed with
lymphadenitis and a possible dental abscess. (Tr. 354-359).
On July 2011, she was again diagnosed with chest wall pain.
Dr. Eric Elliot did not order an EKG because he found a
noncardiac etiology was evident, and he also doubted it was
pneumonia or pneumothorax. (Tr. 360-364). Plaintiff was
prescribed Prilosec and Toradol. (Tr. 364). On September 7,
2011, she complained of weakness and paresthesia. (Tr. 298).
An EKG, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain and
chest X-ray showed no acute problems. (Tr. 299). She was
ultimately diagnosed with paresthesia. (Tr. 301).
March 16, 2012, Plaintiff established care with Dr. Joe
Llenos as her primary care physician, and she reported to him
a history of allergy induced asthma. (Tr. 374-375). Three
days later, Plaintiff returned for blood work, and she was
diagnosed with asthma and obesity. (Tr. 372-373, 378-379).
During the follow-up visit on March 26, 2012, Plaintiff
reported her breathing improved with Albuterol, but she was
using it daily. (Tr. 370). Dr. Llenos prescribed her
Fluticasone Propionate HFA and instructed her to follow-up in
six months. (Tr. 370). On July 17, 2012, Plaintiff reported a
back injury with pain that radiated to her neck and triggered
vertigo. (Tr. 367). She reported previously having a
work-related back ...