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Shelton v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Little Rock Division

March 7, 2018

ROY SHELTON PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION.

          PATRICIA S. HARRIS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         INSTRUCTIONS

         The following Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to United States District Judge Susan Webber Wright. You may file written objections to all or part of this Recommendation. If you do so, those objections must: (1) specifically explain the factual and/or legal basis for your objection; and (2) be received by the Clerk of this Court within fourteen (14) days of this Recommendation. By not objecting, you may waive the right to appeal questions of fact.

         REASONING FOR RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         Roy Shelton applied for social security disability benefits with an alleged disability onset date of March 15, 1995. (R. at 60). After a hearing, the administrative law judge (ALJ) denied his application. (R. at 20). The Appeals Council denied Shelton's request for review. (R. at 1). The ALJ's decision now stands as the Commissioner's final decision, and Shelton has requested judicial review.

         For the reasons stated below, the magistrate judge recommends affirming the Commissioner's decision.

         I. The Commissioner's Decision

         The ALJ found that Shelton had the severe impairments of degenerative disk disease of the lumbar spine, osteoarthritis, and adjustment disorder with mixed depression and anxiety. (R. at 11). As a result of the impairments, the ALJ determined that Shelton had the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform light work, with the additional limitations that he could not climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; could only occasionally climb ramps or stairs, kneel, crawl, crouch, stoop, or balance; could not have exposure to unprotected heights or control or operate foot controls with his left lower extremity; could only perform work that allows for the use of a cane as needed to access the workstation; would be limited to unskilled duties where interpersonal contact is incidental to the work performed; could perform work where the complexity of one to two step tasks would be learned and performed with few variables and little judgment by rote; required supervision that is simple, direct, and concrete; and would be limited to SVP 1 or 2 jobs that can be learned within 30 days. (R. at 13-14). Shelton had no past relevant work. (R. at 17). The ALJ took testimony from a vocational expert (VE) and determined that Shelton could perform jobs such as furniture rental consultant or photocopy machine operator. (R. at 19-20). The ALJ therefore held that Shelton was not disabled. (R. at 20).

         II. Summary of Medical Evidence

         Shelton was diagnosed with minimal osteoarthritis in the right hip via radiography on February 3, 2012. (R. at 299). An MRI in March 2013 showed degenerative disk disease of the lumbar spine with herniated nucleus pulposus and neural foraminal stenosis. (R. at 24). He received a lumbar interlaminar epidural injection for radiculopathy and back pain. (R. at 24).

         Consultative examiner Garry Stewart, M.D. found normal range of motion, normal reflexes, negative bilateral straight leg raise test, normal grip strength, normal gait, and normal limb function. (R. at 303-04). Dr. Stewart found no limitations. (R. at 304-05).

         A November 2013 MRI found minimal disk bulge at ¶ 2-L3 and L3-L4; mild disk osteophyte bulge at ¶ 4-L5; and grade 1 anterolisthesis of L5 on S1 with left foraminal disk protrusion/extrusion abutting the left S1 nerve root, moderate left and mild right facet hypertrophy, and moderate left neural foraminal narrowing. (R. at 318-19). An EMG in December 2013 showed positive sharp waves at multiple levels in the left lumbar paraspinal musculature, consistent with left lower lumber radiculopathy. (R. at 327).

         Shelton did not seek treatment for 15 months, but did establish care with a new provider in March 2015. (R. at 385). He complained of a cyst, back pain, and intermittent bloody diarrhea. (R. at 385). He stated that injections for his back pain had not been completely effective. (R. at 385). He had tenderness on palpation in the lumbosacral spine, but a straight leg raising test was negative. (R. at 387).

         He presented in April 2015 for back pain radiating to the left foot that was aggravated by bending and repetitive lifting and also complained of fatigue, arthralgias, and myalgias. (R. at 366). He displayed slow gait, decreased range of motion in the lumbar spine, and pain with range of motion in the lumbar spine. (R. at 367). In May 2015, he reported pain in both hips, shooting pain in the right leg, and had begun using a cane to ambulate. (R. at 360). He continued to show slow gait, decreased range of motion in the lumbar spine, and pain with range of motion in the ...


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