United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Batesville Division
PATRICIA S. HARRIS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
following Recommended Disposition
(“Recommendation”) has been sent to United States
District Judge Billy Roy Wilson. 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.
FOR RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION
Manuel applied for social security disability benefits with
an alleged disability onset date of January 1, 2015. (R. at
58). After a hearing, the administrative law judge (ALJ)
denied her application. (R. at 24). The Appeals Council
denied Manuel's request for review. (R. at 1). The
ALJ's decision now stands as the Commissioner's final
decision, and Manuel has requested judicial review.
reasons stated below, the magistrate judge recommends
affirming the Commissioner's decision.
The Commissioner's Decision
found that Manuel had the severe impairments of
osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome,
degenerative disk disease of the lumbar spine, affective
disorder, anxiety disorder, bilateral hearing loss, and
obesity. (R. at 12). As a result of the impairments, the ALJ
determined that Manuel had the residual functional capacity
(RFC) to perform light work except that she could
occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; occasionally
reach overhead; must avoid noise above the moderate level due
to hearing loss; would be limited to communicating and
hearing simple oral instructions; and would be limited to
simple, routine tasks, with occasional changes in the routine
work setting. (R. at 15). The ALJ took testimony from a
vocational expert (VE) and determined that Manuel could not
perform her past relevant work. (R. at 22). The VE testified,
however, that the RFC would allow jobs such as sales
attendant or office helper. (R. at 23). The ALJ therefore
held that Manuel was not disabled. (R. at 24).
Summary of Medical Evidence
presented to Charles Varela, M.D. on January 12, 2015 with
bilateral anterior shoulder pain and occasional numbness in
the median distribution of both hands. She had full range of
motion in both shoulders and marked tenderness at the
anterior acromion bilaterally. The impression was bilateral
subacromial bursitis and mild bilateral carpal tunnel
syndrome. Dr. Varela performed subacromial injections in both
shoulders, advised her to restrict overhead activities and
use anti-inflammatories; and advised her that she would not
be a candidate for carpal tunnel surgery unless her symptoms
worsened significantly. (R. at 330).
visited James Allen, M.D. on February 19, 2015 with continued
complaints of shoulder pain, with the left worse than the
right. (R. at 334). She had localized tenderness to
palpation, pain with range of motion, and diffuse weakness.
(R. at 336). An MRI was conducted on February 23, 2015, which
showed mild supraspinatus tendinopathy without a discrete
tear, no partial or full-thickness rotator cuff tear; minimal
intra-articular biceps tendinopathy; and minimal reactive
edema at the acromial clavicular joint. (R. at 337). She
returned for follow-up on March 3, 2015, when she stated that
her discomfort had been improving since her last visit. (R.
at 339). Treatment options were discussed, and Manuel opted
for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication management for
the time. (R. at 341).
31, 2015, Michael Carter, D.N.P., A.P.R.N. stated that he
recalled treating Manuel between October 2009 and March 2014.
(R. at 344). He stated that she kept appointments and that
her torn right rotator cuff and multiple muscle aches and
pains prevented her from performing some aspects of her job.
(R. at 344). He stated that her pain did not respond to the
treatment his practice could offer. (R. at 344).
September 10, 2015, Manuel saw Neeraj Kumar, M.D. for back
and hip pain and bilateral shoulder pain. (R. at 576). A
history of fibromyalgia and left rotator cuff tear was noted.
(R. at 576). Dr. Kumar recommended diagnostic bilateral
lumbar medical branch blocks at L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1. (R.
at 578). Dr. Kumar also agreed to opioid therapy. (R. at
579). On October 8, 2015, Manuel stated that her pain had not
changed significantly but was manageable with medications,
that the medication improved her activity levels and quality
of life, and that she experienced no side effects from the
medication. (R. at 678). She reported being able to perform
activities of daily living with her current medication
regimen. (R. at 680). She reported exacerbation of her pain
on December 2, 2015. (R. at 681). Medication was adjusted,
and she was advised to avoid bed rest and maintain normal
activities. (R. at 683). She reported on January 27, 2016,
that her pain was not manageable with medications. (R. at
743). On March 16, 2016, Manuel returned for follow-up
stating that her pain continued despite increasing her
hydrocodone, that her pain was not well controlled, and that
she wanted to consider intervention. (R. at 739). Dr. Kumar
recommended diagnostic bilateral thoracic medial branch
blocks and possible medial branch neurotomy if branch blocks
proved successful. (R. at 741).
presented to Amber Fore, A.P.R.N. on March 29, 2016 for back
pain. (R. at 766). She was instructed to continue pain
management and get a thoracic MRI. (R. at 769). On March 30,
2016, Nurse Fore filled out a medical source statement
indicating that Manuel could lift and carry less than ten
pounds; walk about two hours in an eight-hour workday; sit
about two hours in an eight-hour workday; needed frequent
rest periods, longer than normal breaks, and a sit/stand at
will option; could not reach; could occasionally finger;
could occasionally handle; and would miss more than three
days of work per month. (R. at 748-49). Manuel ...