United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS JUDGE
before the Court is the Report and Recommendation
("R&R") (Doc. 16) of the Honorable Erin L.
Wiedemann, Chief United States Magistrate Judge for the
Western District of Arkansas, filed in this case on November
7, 2019. The Magistrate Judge recommends affirming the
Administrative Law Judge's ("ALJ") decision to
deny Plaintiff Paula Graver's claim for disability
insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental
security income ("SSI") benefits under Titles II
and XVI of the Social Security Act. Ms. Grover filed
objections to the R&R (Doc. 17), and the Court has now
reviewed the entire case de novo, paying particular
attention to those findings or recommendations to which
objections were made. See 28 U.S.C. 636(b)(1)(C).
For the reasons stated herein, Ms. Graver's objections
are overruled, and the R&R is adopted in its entirety.
Grover filed her applications for DIB and SSI benefits on
July 27, 2016, alleging an inability to work since March 3,
2016, due to spinal stenosis, bone spurs on the spine, carpal
tunnel syndrome of both hands, numb fingers, and
radiculopathy. The ALJ found that she had severe impairments,
including degenerative disc disease, carpal tunnel syndrome,
disorder of female genital organs, and obesity. However, the
ALJ concluded that these impairments did not meet or equal
the level of severity of any impairment listed in the Listing
of Impairments in Appendix I, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4.
According to the ALJ, Ms. Graver retained the residual
functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work
with some restrictions. DIB and SSI benefits were therefore
Graver's first objection is that the ALJ did not properly
consider and evaluate her subjective complaints using the
Po/as/c/factors. In particular, Ms. Graver argues that
substantial evidence in the record establishes that her back
pain is disabling because she has not experienced any
significant improvement in her pain and mobility since her
back surgery. As for her symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome,
Ms. Graver contends that she still has moderately severe
restrictions with respect to her right wrist, even after
carpal-tunnel release surgery. Finally, with regard to her
symptoms of persistent urinary pain and incontinence, she
maintains that there is no evidence in the medical record to
support the R&R's conclusion that these symptoms were
greatly improved with medication. In fact, Ms. Graver
believes that the medical evidence indicates her urinary
issues have worsened since June of 2017.
Graver's second objection is to the ALJ's RFC
determination of light work. She believes the medical record
does not support such a determination.
third objection is that the ALJ improperly discounted or
disregarded some of the opinions of one of her treating
physicians, Dr. Stephen Irwin. In Ms. Graver's view, the
Magistrate Judge did not adequately explain why substantial
evidence supported the ALJ's finding that Dr. Irwin's
recommendations about lifting, bending, and twisting
restrictions were inconsistent with the record as a whole.
Ms. Graver also believes the Magistrate Judge failed to
identify the evidence she relied on in arriving at her
opinions about Dr. Irwin. The Court will take up each of Ms.
Graver's objections in turn.
Ms. Graver's Subjective Complaints
to the R&R:
The ALJ was required to consider all the evidence relating to
Plaintiffs subjective complaints including evidence presented
by third parties that relates to: (1) Plaintiffs daily
activities; (2) the duration, frequency, and intensity of her
pain; (3) precipitating and aggravating factors; (4) dosage,
effectiveness, and side effects of her medication; and (5)
functional restrictions. See Polaski v. Heckler, 739
F.2d 1320, 1322 (8th Cir. 1984).
(Doc. 16, p. 13).
above five considerations are known as the Polaski
factors. Ms. Grover contends that the ALJ improperly
evaluated her subjective complaints of back pain, carpal
tunnel syndrome, and urinary issues, and the Magistrate Judge
erred in finding the ALJ's analysis to be adequate. The
R&R correctly noted that an ALJ may discount subjective
complaints where inconsistencies appear in the record as a
whole, and an ALJ may also evaluate a claimant's
credibility regarding her subjective complaints. (Doc. 16, p.
13). The Court has reviewed the entire medical file and finds
that Ms. Graver's objections about the sufficiency of the
evidence should be overruled. The ALJ properly evaluated her
subjective complaints and supported his opinions with
citations to the medical evidence in the file.