United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Helena Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Crystal Loude (“Loude”) began this case by filing
a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 405(g). In the complaint,
she challenged the final decision of the Acting Commissioner
of the Social Security Administration
(“Commissioner”), a decision based upon the
findings of an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”).
maintains that the ALJ's findings are not supported by
substantial evidence on the record as a whole. It is Loude's
contention that the ALJ gave inadequate reasons for
discounting the opinions of Dr. Kenneth Chan, D.O.,
(“Chan”), Loude's treating physician, with
respect to Loude's migraine headaches.
record reflects that Loude was born on November 10, 1979, and
was thirty-five years old when she filed her application for
supplemental security income payments on February 5, 2015.
She alleged in the application that she became disabled as a
result of, inter alia, her migraine headaches.
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). In making the assessment, the ALJ
is required to consider the medical opinions in the record.
See Wagner v. Astrue, 499 F.3d 842 (8th Cir. 2007).
A treating physician's medical opinions are given
controlling weight if they are well-supported by medically
acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques and
are not inconsistent with the other substantial evidence.
See Choate v. Barnhart, 457 F.3d 865 (8th Cir.
2006). The ALJ may discount a treating physician's
medical opinions if other medical assessments are supported
by better or more thorough medical evidence or where the
treating physician renders inconsistent opinions that
undermine the credibility of his opinions. See Id.
must evaluate the claimant's subject iv e com pla i nt s
a s a p a rt o f a s se s si n g his residual functional
capacity. See Pearsall v. Massanari, 274 F.3d 1211
(8th Cir. 2001). The ALJ does so by considering all of the
evidence, including the following:
... [the] objective medical evidence, the claimant's work
history, and evidence relating to the factors set forth in
Polaski v. Heckler, 739 F.3d 1320, 1322 (8th Cir.
1984): (i) the claimant's daily activities; (ii) the
duration, frequency, and intensity of the claimant's
pain; (iii) precipitating and aggravating factors; (iv) the
dosage, effectiveness, and side effects of medication; and
(v) the claimant's functional restrictions. ... An ALJ
need not expressly cite the Polaski factors when ...
[he] conducts an analysis pursuant to 20 C.F.R. 416.929
because the regulation “largely mirror[s] the Polaski
factors.” Schultz v. Astrue, 479 F.3d 979, 983
(8th Cir. 2007); see 20 C.F.R.
416.929(c)(3)(i)-(iv), (vii) (2011) ...
See Vance v. Berryhill, 860 F.3d 1114, 1120 (8th
summary of the evidence relevant to Loude's migraine
headaches reflects that on October 11, 2013, she presented to
Dr. James Beaton, M.D., (“Beaton”) complaining of
cold symptoms and low back pain. See Transcript at
473-475. During the course of the examination, she complained
of migraine headaches. He credited her self-report and
diagnosed migraine headaches. He recommended Topamax and
referred her to Chan, a neurologist, for an evaluation of the
on January 18, 2014, and continuing through February 19,
2014, Loude sought treatment from a chiropractor on nine
occasions. See Transcript at 292-297. The
chiropractor's progress notes are relevant to Loude's
migraine headaches because she repeatedly denied headaches
but complained of pain in her neck, shoulders, arms, back,
hips, and legs.
March 13, 2014, Loude presented to Beaton complaining of a
migraine headache. See Transcript at 350-351. He
recorded her history of present illness and noted the
MS. LOUDE presents with classic migraine. [She] was diagnosed
with migraine headaches > [i.e., greater than or
more than] 10 years ago. Typical precipitating factors
include lack of sleep. The current headache began
approximately two weeks ago. The location is primarily left
temporal and frontal. The pain radiates to the neck. She
characterizes the headache as moderate in severity and
throbbing. Associated symptoms include sinus congestion,
vision disturbance (scotoma) and vomiting. She denied fever.
She has been taking Topamax, 100 mg q hs. She has been taking
Relpax in the last week without improvement.
See Transcript at 350. Beaton recorded Loude's
medications to include Relpax and Topamax. He diagnosed
migraine headaches without aura and prescribed medications
that included Toradol, Phenergan, and Ondansetron.
saw Loude on March 31, 2014, for her migraine headaches.
See Transcript at 382-384. He noted that Topamax had
reduced the number of her headaches by about fifty percent.
She had, though, experienced a headache that persisted for
one week. He diagnosed a migraine headache and prescribed
Topiramate. He ordered an MRI of her brain, the results of
which were normal. See Transcript 380.
saw Loude again on November 7, 2014, and noted that she
continued to experience migraine headaches. See
Transcript at 377-378. He increased her dosage of Topamax and
prescribed Imitrex. He also ordered an EEG and a twenty-four
hour Holter monitor.
November 29, 2014, Loude was visiting her family in Detroit,
Michigan, when she sought emergency care for her complaints
of migraine headaches and episodes of syncope. See
Transcript at 315-332. Her history of present illness was
recorded to include the following:
... [Loude] has long history of migraine headaches since
teenager, usually she has migraine[s] with aura characterized
by flashing light and sometimes ... severe bilateral
headache[s]. She lately has daily headaches. ... They just
increased Topamax to 200 milligrams twice a day. She just
started with the ...