Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Hoops v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

December 30, 2019

WILLIAM F. HOOPS, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          Edmund A. Sargus, Jr. Judge

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          CHELSEY M. VASCURA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, William F. Hoops, Jr. (“Plaintiff”), brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying his application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits. This matter is before the undersigned for a Report and Recommendation on Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (ECF No. 11), the Commissioner's Response in Opposition (ECF No. 16), and the administrative record (ECF No. 8). For the reasons that follow, it is RECOMMENDED that Plaintiff's Statement of Errors be OVERRULED and that the Commissioner's decision be AFFIRMED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff protectively filed his application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits on January 21, 2016. In his application, Plaintiff alleged a disability onset of November 30, 2013. Plaintiff's application was denied initially on April 6, 2016, and upon reconsideration on July 13, 2016. Plaintiff sought a hearing before an administrative law judge. Administrative Law Judge Lana Johnson (the “ALJ”) held a hearing on May 15, 2018, at which Plaintiff, represented by counsel, appeared and testified. Vocational Expert Brian L. Harmon (the “VE”), also appeared and testified at the hearing. On August 15, 2018, the ALJ issued a decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. On February 14, 2019, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review and adopted the ALJ's decision as the Commissioner's final decision. Plaintiff timely filed this action.

         In his Statement of Errors, Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ failed to properly evaluate the opinion of the independent medical examiner, Ralph G. Rohner, Jr., M.D. (“Dr. Rohner”). He also asserts that the ALJ improperly relied upon the opinions of the state-agency reviewing physicians.

         II. RELEVANT MEDICAL RECORDS

         A. Independent Medical Examiner, Ralph G. Rohner, Jr., M.D.

         On July 16, 2014, Dr. Rohner conducted an independent medical examination of Plaintiff as part of Plaintiff's workers' compensation claim. (R. at 320-27.) On physical examination, Dr. Rohner noted that Plaintiff was a healthy-appearing male in no acute distress. (R. at 321.) He found that Plaintiff had a reduced cervical range of motion, 2 upper extremity reflexes, and cervical tenderness. (Id.)

         Dr. Rohner noted that plaintiff underwent surgery for an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion of his C5-C6 on March 28, 2014. (R. at 322.) At the July 16, 2014 examination, Dr. Rohner concluded that Plaintiff “has not reached a period of time where one can consider the possibility of his fusion being solid” and that “[Plaintiff] should avoid repetitive changing of neck position - no repeated up, down, flexing of the neck or rotation, no overhead lifting, no power lifting.” (R. at 324.) Dr. Rohner opined that Plaintiff had not reached maximum medical improvement and stated that “one cannot say whether a fusion attempt has succeeded or failed with certainty for a period of one year.” (Id.) He recommended repeat evaluation one year postop and stated that “it is too soon to consider vocational rehabilitation.” (R. at 324, 325.)

         Dr. Rohner also completed a “Report of Work Ability, ” wherein he opined that Plaintiff is able to occasionally lift up to 10 pounds, and can never reach below his knees, push, pull, squat, kneel, or lift above his shoulder. (R. at 327.) He opined that Plaintiff is able to continuously stand, walk, and sit. (Id.) Dr. Rohner stated that these restrictions were “temporary” and expected to last until November 25, 2015. (Id.) He further opined that Plaintiff was temporarily restricted to working 4 hours per day. (Id.)

         B. State-Agency Reviewing Physicians

         On April 5, 2016, a state-agency reviewing physician, Robert Wysokinski, M.D., reviewed the record and assessed Plaintiff's residual functional capacity. He found that Plaintiff can occasionally lift and/or carry 20 pounds; frequently lift and/or carry 10 pounds; stand and/or walk 6 hours in an 8-hour workday; and sit about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday. (R. at 90.) He limited Plaintiff to frequent left-hand controls, occasional overhead reaching with his left arm, and frequent lateral reaching with his left arm. (R. at 90-91.) Dr. Wysokinski further opined that Plaintiff can never crawl or climb ladders/ropes/scaffolds and can frequently crouch. (R. at 91.) He found that Plaintiff should avoid concentrated exposure to vibration and should avoid all exposure to hazards, including hazardous machinery, unprotected heights, and commercial driving. (R. at 92.)

         On July 12, 2016, Esberdado Villanueva, M.D., adopted Dr. Wysokinski's opinions. (R. at 104-06.)

         III. THE ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

         On August 15, 2018, the ALJ issued her decision. (R. at 42-51.) The ALJ first found that Plaintiff meets the insured status requirements through December 31, 2018. (Id. at 44.) At step one of the sequential evaluation process, [1] the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 30, 2013, the alleged onset date. (Id.) At step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the severe impairments of “degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine with left radiculopathy status post fusion of the C5-C6 and left carpal tunnel syndrome (mild) (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).” (Id.) At step three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled one of the listed impairments described in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Id. at 44-45.) The ALJ set forth Plaintiff's RFC as follows:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except the claimant can never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds and crawl; occasionally climb ramps and stairs, stoop, kneel, and crouch; occasionally reach overhead with the left upper extremity; frequently reach in all other directions with the left upper extremity; frequently use hand controls and handle with the left upper ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.