United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
Michael H. Watson Judge.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KIMBERLY A. JOLSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Teresa Darlene Alloway, brings this action under 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) for review of a final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) denying her application for
social security disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”). Plaintiff alleges disability beginning
September 14, 2012. (See Doc. 10 at 2). For the
reasons that follow, it is RECOMMENDED that
the Court OVERRULE Plaintiff's Statement
of Errors and AFFIRM the Commissioner's
FACTUAL AND MEDICAL BACKGROUND
filed this case on October 10, 2016 (Doc. 1), and the
Commissioner filed the administrative record on December 20,
2016 (Doc. 9). Plaintiff filed a Statement of Errors on
February 3, 2017, 2016 (Doc. 10), the Commissioner responded
on March 16, 2017 (Doc. 11), and Plaintiff filed a Reply
Brief on March 30, 2017 (Doc. 12).
was born in 1954. (Doc. 9, Tr. 119). She graduated high
school in 1972 and took two years of business management
courses in the 1990s, but did not earn a degree.
(Id., Tr. 143). She worked full-time from 1993 until
2002 as a manager of a Dollar General store, earning $11.45
per hour. (Id., Tr. 144). From 2004 through 2012,
she worked 32 hours per week as a clerk at a gas station,
earning $7.70 per hour. (Id.). Plaintiff alleged in
her application that she became disabled on September 15,
2012, the day her employer “closed down.”
(Id., Tr. 143).
Relevant Medical Evidence
Short, M.D. (Treating Physician)
Short is Plaintiff's primary-care physician. Dr.
Short's records that are part of this case begin in 2011,
and most of them pertain to Plaintiff's hyperlipidemia,
diabetes, and hypertension, as well as her vitamin B12
deficiency. (See, e.g., Doc. 9, Tr. 324-72, 387-99).
For example, a record from May 2012 notes that Plaintiff was
seen “for follow up for diabetes”-Plaintiff had
gained 16 pounds since her last visit, but the exam was
otherwise unremarkable. (Id., Tr. 271-72). Likewise,
an illustrative record from 2013 notes that Plaintiff's
“sugars doing fairly well, ” and her neuropathy
was “well-controlled” with medication. The
records from 2014 and 2015 address these same issues. During
a visit in February 2014, for example, Plaintiff reported
that Lyrica was helping her neuropathy; her exam was
“unremarkable”; her blood pressure was
“good”; and Dr. Short “stressed importance
of weight reduction diet compliance and exercise.”
(Id., Tr. 341-42). On this last point, Dr.
Short's notes continually report Plaintiff's failure
to comply with diet, weight loss, and exercise
recommendations. (See, e.g., id., 328, 387,
the middle of 2014, Plaintiff's complaints to Dr. Short
shifted and began to note other ailments in addition to those
explained above. Specifically, on May 21, 2014, Plaintiff
reported “some discomfort” in the joint of both
thumbs. (Id., Tr. 345). During this visit, Dr. Short
examined Plaintiff and noted no evidence of synovitis,
swelling or tenderness in her thumb joints, and a good range
of motion, and found that Plaintiff had “good grip
strength bilaterally.” (Id., Tr. 347). To
further investigate Plaintiff's complaints, Dr. Short
ordered X-rays. The X-rays showed “[n]o fracture,
” “[n]o dislocation, ” and “[j]oint
spaces are generally maintained.” Overall, “the
impression was negative.” (Id., Tr. 357, 360).
continued to see Dr. Short, and, in January 2015, he
completed a medical-source statement. (Id., Tr.
400). He wrote that Plaintiff's diagnoses include
diabetic neuropathy, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and
diabetes. (Id.). He categorized her prognosis as
“fair.” He also noted “persistent leg pain,
” which was “moderately severe” as her only
symptom. (Id.). When asked about the frequency and
length of the treatment relationship, Dr. Short did not
respond. (See id.).
medical-source statement, Dr. Short additionally stated that
Plaintiff is functionally limited in a number of ways-limited
to walking less than one block without rest or severe pain;
limited to sitting for 20 minutes at one time; unable to
stand for any significant length of time without requiring
position change; and unable to sit and stand/walk for more
than 2 hours each in an 8-hour workday. (Id.). Dr.
Short also found that Plaintiff was likely to take 2 to 3
unscheduled breaks during the workday due to pain/paresthesia
and adverse effects of medication. (Id.). He
estimated that each of these unscheduled breaks would average
15 minutes. (Id.). He also found that Plaintiff
could only lift less than 10 lbs. occasionally; 10 lbs.
rarely; and never lift 20 lbs. or more. (Id., Tr.
402). She could rarely twist, stoop, crouch, or squat; never
climb stairs and ladders, and reach overhead bilaterally no
more than 50% of the time. (Id.). Plaintiff would
not have any difficulty with reaching, handling, or
fingering. (Id.). Dr. Short stated that Plaintiff
was likely to experience symptoms severe enough to interfere
with attention and concentration needed to perform even
simple work tasks 5% of the day but did not explain why.
(Id.). She was also likely to miss about 2 days per
month as a result of her impairments/treatment.
(Id.). Dr. Short noted that these limitations
started before 2011. (Id.).
March 2015, Plaintiff again saw Dr. Short. He noted that
Plaintiff was “not following her diet” and not
“losing weight.” (Id., Tr. 387). She
complained of some paresthesia in her hands and feet that the
doctor believed was diabetic neuropathy, but no muscle
weakness, chest pain, or vision trouble. (Id., Tr.
387, 389). In June 2015, Plaintiff reported similar problems
but reported that Lyrica was helping with the diabetic
neuropathy. (Id., Tr. 392).
20, 2015, an EMG was performed on Plaintiff's bilateral
upper and lower extremities. (Id., Tr. 404). The
testing revealed severe left median nerve carpal tunnel
syndrome; moderate right median nerve carpal tunnel syndrome;
and active left cervical and lumbosacral motor radiculopathy.
(Id., Tr. 406).
August 2015, an MRI of Plaintiff's neck revealed moderate
central disc protrusion, mild to moderate central canal
stenosis, medium broad-based disc bulge, mild to moderate
foraminal stenosis, and mild facet arthropathy.
(Id., Tr. 423). The impression was
“[m]ultilevel degenerative disc disease as detailed
above most pronounced at ¶ 4-C5 where there is a central
disc protrusion with impingement of the ventral spinal
cord.” (Id., Tr. 424). An MRI of the lumbar
spine showed “[n]o evidence of nerve impingement, [n]o
significant degenerative disc disease, [and only] mild L4-L5
and L5-S1 facet arthropathy.” (Id., Tr.
458-59). Examination for bilateral carpal tunnel in August
2015, revealed some diminished grip strength, weak
Tinel's and Phalen's test, and normal wrists.
(Id., Tr. 432-35). It was noted that splints worn on
the wrists helped with pain somewhat. (Id., Tr.
436). Surgery was recommended, but not scheduled.
Bradley Arndt, ...