United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Chris Fulkerson (“Fulkerson”) began this case by
filing a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 405(g). In the
complaint, he 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
Fulkerson's position that his residual functional
capacity was erroneously assessed, and he offers two reasons
why. First, Fulkerson maintains that he cannot perform light
work, as the ALJ found, because Fulkerson cannot satisfy the
standing or walking requirements of light work. Second,
Fulkerson maintains that the ALJ's credibility analysis
was fleeting and focused exclusively on Fulkerson's daily
activities, making no mention of his work history.
is required to assess the claimant's residual functional
capacity, which is a determination of the most a person can
do despite his limitations. See Brown v. Barnhart,
390 F.3d 535 (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 the assessment, the ALJ must evaluate the claimant's
subjective complaints. See Pearsall v. Massanari,
274 F.3d 1211 (8th Cir. 2001). The ALJ should consider the
medical evidence and evidence of the claimant's daily
activities; the duration, frequency, and intensity of his
pain; the dosage and effectiveness of his medication;
precipitating and aggravating factors; and functional
restrictions. See Id. [citing Polaski v.
Heckler, 739 F.2d 1320 (8th Cir. 1984)].
record reflects that Fulkerson was born on January 24, 1964,
and was fifty years old when he filed his applications for
disability insurance benefits and supplemental security
income payments. He alleged in the applications that he had
become disabled beginning on March 27, 2014, because of
impairments that included coronary artery disease, double
bypass surgery, and gout. See Transcript at 147,
summary of the evidence relevant to Fulkerson's ability
to stand or walk reflects that he saw Dr. Leslie McCasland,
M.D., (“McCasland”) on March 6, 2013, for
complications caused by gout in his feet. See
Transcript at 667-669. McCasland noted that Fulkerson was
taking Colcrys and allopurinol every day for gout and was
tolerating the medications well. McCasland also noted that
although Fulkerson had a “mini-flare on the dorsum of
his right foot, ” he was otherwise doing “fairly
well.” See Transcript at 667. McCasland
continued Fulkerson on his medications and urged him to
continue using Colcrys.
March 29, 2013, Fulkerson saw Dr. James Murrey, M.D.,
(“Murrey”). See Transcript at 395-399.
Fulkerson reported that he had stopped taking allopurinol
because it had caused complications, but he had restarted it
when he began having “a lot of gout again in his right
... foot that was very painful.” See
Transcript at 395. Murrey recommended that Fulkerson
discontinue Colcrys and allopurinol and recommended that he
begin taking Decamix . Murr ey al so spoke a t lengt h with
Fulkerson about his need to maintain a low protein diet
because certain foods could cause a flare up of his gout.
saw McCasland on August 14, 2013. See Transcript at
650-653. Fulkerson reported a flare up of gout in his left
mid-foot. He reported no “dietary indiscretion”
and reported having taken all of his medications.
See Transcript at 650. McCasland prescribed a Medrol
Dosepak to be used in the event of a flare up and continued
the use of Uloric, which Fulkerson had previously been
saw Murrey on October 15, 2013. See Transcript at
380-384. With respect to Fulkerson's gout, Murrey's
progress note reflects the following: “[McCasland] has
[Fulkerson] on Uloric as well as Colchicine, which
[Fulkerson] states he is taking [three] days a week for his
gout. He feels this has helped his flare ups. He had it in
his foot ...” See Transcript at 380. Murrey
continued Fulkerson on his medications.
December 16, 2013, McCasland saw Fulkerson for his gout.
See Transcript at 644-646. Although Fulkerson
reported “twinges in his big toes, ” he did not
report any flare ups of his gout. See Transcript at
644. He also reported that he was taking and tolerating his
medications. McCasland continued Fulkerson on his
March 27, 2014, Fulkerson presented to a NEA Baptist Clinic
emergency room complaining of chest pains and a syncope, or
near syncope, event. See Transcript at 492-508.
Testing was performed, and the diagnosis was dehydration.
April 11, 2014, Fulkerson underwent a stress echocardiogram.
See Transcript at 490-491. The results of the
“[t]echnically adequate study” were within normal
limits. See Transcript at 491. The summary portion
of the report includes the following notation:
“[e]xcellent exercise tolerance with adequate heart
rate response with no induced chest pain.” See
Transcript at 491.
saw Murrey again on April 18, 2014, for a follow-up
examination. See Transcript at 363-367. Murrey noted
in his progress note that Fulkerson was scheduled to return
to work on April 21, 2014. Murrey recorded Fulkerson's
history of present illness as follows:
... [Fulkerson] was hospitalized ... for a near syncope
episode at work. This occurred associated with exertion. He
also had preceding this some right sided chest pain. He was
also noted to be hypotensive, hypoglycemic, and tachycardic.
He was admitted. He had a ventilation profusion lung scan and
chest x-ray and lab cardiac enzymes that were negative. He
has also had a stress echocardiogram done April
11th that did not show any evidence of reversible
ischemia. He had been doing strenuous work and he had prior
to that time been used to office work. ... He has not had
chest pain as severe as when he was in the hospital. ...
See Transcript at 363. Murrey opined that Fulkerson
was “resolved from his syncope episode” but
likely had “poor exercise conditioning.”
See Transcript at 367.
the next two months, Fulkerson continued to complain of
syncope, or near syncope, events; dehydration; sweating; and
lightheadedness. See Transcript at 482-287, 362,
361. It appears ...