United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Delta Division
Kimberly Dawn Ramey (“Ramey”), applied for
disability benefits on May 15, 2015, alleging a disability
onset date of November 2, 2014. (Tr. at 18). The claim was
denied initially and upon reconsideration. Id. After
conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) denied Ramey's application. (Tr. at
29). The Appeals Council denied her request for review. (Tr.
at 1). The ALJ's decision now stands as the final
decision of the Commissioner, and Ramey has requested
reasons stated below, the Court affirms the decision of the
The Commissioner's Decision:
found that Ramey had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the alleged onset date of November 2, 2014.
(Tr. at 20). The ALJ found, at Step Two of the sequential
five-step analysis, that Ramey had the following severe
impairments: thyroid and appendix surgery, plantar fasciitis,
status post 2 C-sections, headaches, restless leg syndrome,
fibromyalgia with associated irritable bowel syndrome,
neuropathy in her legs, degenerative disc disease of the
lumbar spine, borderline diabetes, bilateral carpal tunnel
syndrome, right shoulder impingement syndrome, depression,
and anxiety. (Tr. at 21).
Three, the ALJ determined that Ramey's impairments did
not meet or equal a listed impairment. Id. Before
proceeding to Step Four, the ALJ determined that Ramey had
the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
perform work at the sedentary level, with additional
limitations. (Tr. at 24). Her work would mostly be performed
in the sitting position; she could occasionally climb, stoop,
kneel, and crawl; she would require a restroom inside the
work area; she could occasionally reach overhead with the
right upper extremity; she could frequently reach and handle;
she could perform unskilled, rote activities; she could
understand, follow, and remember concrete instructions; and
she could have superficial contact with others. Id
The ALJ found that Ramey was unable to perform any past
relevant work. (Tr. at 30). Next, the ALJ relied on the
testimony of a Vocational Expert ("VE") to find
that, considering Ramey's age, education, work experience
and RFC, jobs existed in significant numbers in the national
economy that she could perform. Id. Therefore, the
ALJ found that Ramey was not disabled. (Tr. at 32).
Standard of Review
Court's role is to determine whether the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence. Prosch v. Apfel, 201 F.3d 1010, 1012 (8th
Cir. 2000). “Substantial evidence” in this
context means less than a preponderance but more than a
scintilla. Slusser v. Astrue, 557 F.3d 923, 925 (8th
Cir. 2009). In other words, it is “enough that a
reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the
ALJ's decision.” Id. (citation omitted).
The Court must consider not only evidence that supports the
Commissioner's decision, but also evidence that supports
a contrary outcome. The Court cannot reverse the decision,
however, “merely because substantial evidence exists
for the opposite decision." Long v. Chater, 108
F.3d 185, 187 (8th Cir. 1997) (quoting Johnson v.
Chater, 87 F.3d 1015, 1017 (8th Cir. 1996)).
Ramey's Arguments on Appeal
contends that substantial evidence does not support the
ALJ's decision to deny benefits. She argues that the ALJ
did not properly consider her pain associated with
fibromyalgia, and that the ALJ did not give appropriate
weight to the opinion of Ramey's chiropractor. For the
following reasons, the Court finds that substantial evidence
supports the ALJ's decision.
was referenced several times as a condition for which Ramey
sought treatment. (Tr. at 53, 61, 69, 322, 355, 431). She
complained of some common symptoms of fibromyalgia like
headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, neuropathy, and
restless leg syndrome. Id. At a few visits with her
PCP, Ramey said her pain was moderate, but at more than a
dozen appointments from 2014 to 2017, her PCP noted that she
was in no acute distress. (Tr. at 437-472, 505, 509,
602-614). And Ramey generally had normal muscle tone and
strength, with normal gait, and only moderate joint pain.
(Tr. at 344, 357, 370, 730, 762). Normal examination findings
are not indicative of disabling pain. Gowell v.
Apfel, 242 F.3d 793, 796 (8th Cir. 2001). Ramey was
prescribed Savella for her pain, but found that was not
effective, so she was switched to Lyrica. (Tr. at 355, 53).
She said at the hearing that Lyrica really helped her pain
and neuropathy. (Tr. at 53). Impairments that are
controllable or amenable to treatment do not support a
finding of total disability. Mittlestedt v. Apfel,
204 F.3d 847, 852 (8th Cir. 2000). Finally, Ramey was able to
perform daily activities like caring for her 3-year-old
daughter, fixing meals, shopping in stores, going outside,
going to church, and driving. (Tr. at 288-294). Such daily
activities undermine her claims of disability. Shannon v.
Chater, 54 F.3d 484, 487 (8th Cir. 1995).
state-agency medical experts found Ramey capable of light
work. (Tr. at 104, 123). The ALJ considered these opinions,
as well as the diagnosis of several tender points associated
with fibromyalgia, and he limited Ramey further, to sedentary
work. (Tr. at 25, 26). While Ramey suggests that her pain was
disabling, and that the RFC for sedentary work did not
account for that pain, as discussed above, the record does
not support that allegation. The ALJ considered all of the
evidence including improvement with treatment, normal
clinical findings, and ability to do activities of daily
living and decided that Ramey's subjective complaints of
pain were inconsistent with the record as a whole. See
Ostronski v. Chater, 94 F.3d 413, 418 (8th Cir.
1996)(the ALJ may discount a claimant's complaints of
pain if they are inconsistent with the evidence as a whole).
complained of low back pain, and objective tests did show
moderate conditions in her lumbar spine. (Tr. at 587,
750-752, 762-766). She had an epidural injection and one
nerve block to ease the pain. (Tr. at 763). She said that
Effexor improved her pain by 60%, as did narcotic pain
medication. (Tr. at 516). At the hearing, Ramey said that she