United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
Lane Wilson United States Magistrate Judge.
Robert Koller seeks judicial review of the decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying
his claim for disability insurance benefits under Title XVI
of the Social Security Act (“SSA”), 42 U.S.C.
§§ 416(i), 423, and 1382c(a)(3). In accordance with
28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1) & (3), the parties have
consented to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge.
(Dkt. 10). Any appeal of this decision will be directly to
the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.
argues (1) that the ALJ's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) is not supported by substantial evidence
because the record supports the inclusion of limitations to
plaintiff's left arm; (2) that the ALJ erred in weighing
the opinions of Dr. Ricardo Castellon and Dr. Derrise Garner;
and (3) that the ALJ made improper credibility findings.
reviewing a decision of the Commissioner, the Court is
limited to determining whether the Commissioner has applied
the correct legal standards and whether the decision is
supported by substantial evidence. See Grogan v.
Barnhart, 399 F.3d 1257, 1261 (10th Cir. 2005).
Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla but less than a
preponderance and is such relevant evidence as a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.
See id. The Court's review is based on the
record, and the Court will “meticulously examine the
record as a whole, including anything that may undercut or
detract from the ALJ's findings in order to determine if
the substantiality test has been met.” Id. The
Court may neither re-weigh the evidence nor substitute its
judgment for that of the Commissioner. See Hackett v.
Barnhart, 395 F.3d 1168, 1172 (10th Cir. 2005). Even if
the Court might have reached a different conclusion, if
supported by substantial evidence, the Commissioner's
decision stands. See White v. Barnhart, 287 F.3d
903, 908 (10th Cir. 2002).
Evidence - RFC Findings for Plaintiff's Left
argues that the ALJ erred in failing to include limitations
for his left arm, which is his dominant arm. (Dkt. 19).
Plaintiff contends that the following evidence supports such
limitations: a 2010 EMG study showing moderate nerve
entrapment in the left wrist; the consultative examiner's
finding that plaintiff had decreased arm and grip strength;
the agency physician's opinion that plaintiff should use
his left arm only occasionally; and plaintiff's testimony
that he could not use his left arm for very long or lift more
than ten pounds. Id. Plaintiff also argues that the
ALJ was required to find limitations because he found that
plaintiff has the severe impairment of left arm and shoulder
Commissioner argues that the medical evidence shows a
significant number of subjective complaints but little
objective evidence to support physical limitations in the
left arm. (Dkt. 23).
two, the ALJ found that plaintiff has the severe impairment
of left shoulder and arm pain. (R. 17). The ALJ noted that an
EMG identified nerve entrapment in the left wrist in April
2010. (R. 22). The ALJ also noted that plaintiff had a
positive Tinel's sign in both wrists in April 2012, but
“as a whole, ” plaintiff showed no signs of
dysfunction. (R. 23). The ALJ noted plaintiff's complaint
of left shoulder pain, and his physician's recommendation
that he perform stretching and strengthening exercises for
the rotator cuff. Id.
discussed plaintiff's October 2012 consultative physical
examination, which showed that plaintiff's left hand
strength was 3/5. (R. 24). Plaintiff also complained of pain
when he raised his left arm, but plaintiff had normal range
of motion. Id. The consultative examining physician
assessed plaintiff with left shoulder pain following a
history of surgery and opined that it affected
plaintiff's ability to lift with his left arm.
Id. The ALJ noted that the treatment notes from the
clinic show no “consistent dysfunction in strength or
coordination of the upper extremities.” (R. 28). The
ALJ also found that plaintiff's activities were
inconsistent with his complaints of left arm pain, citing a
treatment note in which plaintiff complained of pain in his
left ribs (emphasis in the ALJ decision) after using
a crank to lift a boat. (R. 26). The ALJ also cited the
medical findings that plaintiff could oppose his left finger
and thumb without difficulty and could do beadwork. (R. 26,
concluded that plaintiff was not as limited in the use of his
left arm as he complained. The ALJ found that plaintiff's
left arm limited his ability to climb ladders, ropes, and
scaffolds, but he was otherwise able to meet the requirements
of light work with respect to his left arm. (R. 28-29).
to plaintiff's claims, the ALJ included left arm
limitations. Therefore, there is no merit to plaintiff's
argument that the ALJ failed to ...