United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
CYNTHIA R. LITTLE PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BARRYHILL, Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
HONORABLE MARK E. FORD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Cynthia R. Little, 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
disability insurance benefits and a period of disability
(DIB) and for supplemental security income (SSI) under Titles
II and XVI of the Social Security Act (“the
Act”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1383(c)(3).
In this judicial review, the Court must determine whether
there is substantial evidence in the administrative record to
support the Commissioner's decision. See U.S.C.
filed her applications for DIB and SSI on November 23, 2012,
alleging disability since August 4, 2014, due to back,
chronic depression, degenerative disc disease, spinal
stenosis, arthritis, anxiety, and neck issues. (ECF No. 9,
pp. 12, 222-236, 257, 286).
application was denied initially and upon reconsideration.
(ECF No. 9, pp. 147, 150, 156-159). An administrative hearing
was held on March 10, 2016, before the Hon. Harold D. Davis.
(ECF No. 9, pp. 36-70). Plaintiff and her mother, Alice Fay
Shannon, and a vocational expert (“VE”),
Zachariah R. Langley, testified. (ECF No. 9, pp. 36, 62).
Plaintiff was represented by counsel, James O'Hern. (ECF
No. 9, p. 35).
written decision dated April 22, 2016, the ALJ found
Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative
disc disease of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine with
cervical spondylosis, status-post lumbar disc fusion;
osteoarthritis; carpal tunnel syndrome; obesity; affective
disorder; and, anxiety disorder. (ECF No. 9, p. 14). The ALJ
next determined that Plaintiff does not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the
severity of any impairment in the Listing of Impairments.
(ECF No. 9, p. 14). After discounting Plaintiff's
credibility, the ALJ found that Plaintiff retained the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform
light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b)
and 416.967(b), except with the following limitations: the
claimant could perform simple tasks and follow simple
instructions, and she could have only incidental contact with
the public. (ECF No. 9, p. 21).
the assistance of a vocational expert, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff could not perform her past relevant work
(“PRW”), but she could perform the requirements
of the representative occupations of Asphalt Distributor
Tender (DOT # 853.665-010), with 300 jobs in Arkansas and 41,
000 jobs in the national economy; Coin-Machine Collector (DOT
# 292.687-010), with 1, 100 jobs in Arkansas and 96, 000 jobs
in the national economy; and, Cleaner, Housekeeping (DOT #
323.687-014) with 1, 000 jobs in Arkansas and 125, 000 jobs
in the national economy. (ECF No. 9, p. 28). The ALJ then
found Plaintiff had not been under a disability as defined by
the Act during the relevant period. (ECF No. 9, p. 24).
November 14, 2016, attorney James O'Hern withdrew from
the case. (ECF No. 9, p. 11). On June 20, 2017, the Appeals
Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (ECF No.
9, p. 5). Plaintiff subsequently filed this action on August
22, 2017. (ECF No. 1). This matter is before the undersigned
for report and recommendation. Both parties have filed appeal
briefs (ECF Nos. 13, 14), and the case is now ready for
undersigned has conducted a thorough review of the entire
record in this case. Because the Plaintiff's appeal
concerns the limitations resulting from her back problems,
pain, and mental impairments, the undersigned will only
recount the evidence relevant to her claim.
December 26, 2013, Plaintiff had a new patient appointment
with Dr. Kradel. Plaintiff complained of pain in her left
shoulder for the past month, primarily with internal
rotation, and no recent injury. (ECF No. 9, p. 454). Dr.
Kradel's physical findings included no decrease in
suppleness in Plaintiff's neck, normal findings with no
costovertebral angle tenderness, and only full range of
motion at shoulder under musculoskeletal findings. (ECF No.
9, p. 456). Dr. Kradel opined the shoulder pain may be a
C-spine issue but more likely bursitis or rotator cuff
injury. (ECF No. 9, 457).
January 30, 2014, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Kradel and
reported left shoulder pain, which he opined was suggestive
of a transient ischemic attack. (ECF No. 9, p. 452).
February 28, 2014, Plaintiff had a follow up appointment with
Dr. Kradell to go over her doppler results. (ECF No. 9, p.
447). He opined that her central problem was likely
depression, and that the treatment plan would be to control
her depression and then address other issues. (ECF No. 9, p.
445). He also noted that her carotid Doppler and Holter
monitor results looked okay. (ECF No. 9, p. 445).
April 4, 2014, Plaintiff had a follow up appointment with Dr.
Kraddel for her depression, which was noted as improving.
(ECF No. 9, p. 444).
6, 2014, Plaintiff had a follow up appointment with Dr.
Kradel who noted that: she was handling her depression well
and there had been no change; that they needed to start
treatment on her hyperlipidemia; and, that menopause was a
likely cause of her other symptoms, and they would consider
hormone replacement therapy after checking her thyroid
stimulating hormone (TSH) levels. (ECF No. 9, pp. 441-443).
17, 2014, Plaintiff had a follow-up appointment and saw Dana
L. Hale, ARPN. (ECF No. 9, p. 425). Her active problems were
listed as carotid atherosclerosis, depression,
hyperlipidemia, menopause symptomatic, and obesity.
Id. She reported pain in the upper/mid back for
three days with a history of degenerative disc disease.
Id. She reported the pain was in her left anterior
chest going through the back, and the pain is at a constant 7
of 10 when she breaths in, with increased pain when turning
her trunk to left. Id. Nurse Hale recommended heat
therapy for a thoracic sprain and refilled Plaintiff's
muscle relaxers. (ECF No. 9, p. 432).
January 6, 2015, Plaintiff underwent X-rays of her ankles,
hands, feet and chest. (ECF No. 9, p. 728-732). The images
were read by Dr. Eric Sale who found them to be unremarkable.
(ECF No. 9, p. 729-732).
January 12, 2015, Plaintiff had a CT scan of the lumbar
region of her spine. The scan was read by Dr. Deland Burks
who found: postsurgical laminectomy L4 and posterior fusion
spanning L4-5, with inferior set of transpedicle screws
extending beyond the anterior cortex of L5; multilevel
degenerative facet arthropathy most pronounced at ¶ 3-4,
and multilevel degenerative disc disease at ¶ 4-5, L1-2,
and T11-12, with mild bony ridging at ¶ 11-12 without
canal stenosis. (ECF No. 9, pp. 539-540).
January 14, 2015, Plaintiff was seen by Laura A. Henson,
APRN, with complaints of multi-joint pain as well as
continued low back pain, and she was requesting a CT scan or
MRI. (ECF No. 9, p. 528).
March 13, 2015, Plaintiff had an MRI on the cervical region
of her spine. (ECF No. 9, p. 536). Dr. David Diment read the
MRI and found spondylitic ridging and multilevel disc
protrusions at the C3-4, C4-5, C5-6 and C6-7 levels, with
impression on the left ventral cord at ¶ 6-7, right
ventral aspect of the cord at ¶ 5-6 centrally, and right
posterolaterally at ¶ 4-5 with borderline to mild canal
stenosis, particularly at ¶ 4-5 and to a slightly lesser
degree at ¶ 5-6. Id.
March 13, 2015, Plaintiff had an MRI on the lumbar region of
her spine. (ECF No. 9, p. 537). Dr. David Diment read the MRI
and found: laminotomy changed L4-5 with some ligamentum flava
hypertrophy on the right with mild thecal sac compression;
diffuse bulge at ¶ 3-4 and facet and ligamentum flava
hypertrophy; small left ...