United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER TO DENY PLAINTIFF'S
B. Cohn, United States Magistrate Judge.
matter is before the undersigned United States Magistrate
Judge for decision. Pamela Renee Smith
(“Plaintiff”) seeks judicial review of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration's
decision finding of not disabled. As set forth below, the
Court DENIES Plaintiff's appeal and
AFFIRMS the Commissioner's decision in
January 8, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for
Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title
II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§
401-433, 1382-1383 (“Act”), with a last insured
date of December 31, 2014,  and a disability onset date of
May 5, 2012. (Tr. 29). On October 29, 2014, the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found Plaintiff
was not disabled within the meaning of the Act. (Tr. 26-44).
Plaintiff sought review of the unfavorable decision, which
the Appeals Council denied on April 29, 2016, thereby
affirming the decision of the ALJ as the “final
decision” of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration. (Tr. 1-7).
1, 2016, Plaintiff filed the above-captioned action pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to appeal a decision of Defendant
denying social security benefits. (Doc. 1). On March 17,
2017, Defendant filed an administrative transcript of
proceedings. (Doc. 10). On August 21, 2017, Plaintiff filed a
brief in support of the appeal. (Doc. 14 (“Pl.
Br.”)). On October 19, 2017, Defendant filed a brief in
response. (Doc. 16 (“Def. Br.”)). On November 6,
2017, Plaintiff filed a reply. (Doc. 17 (Reply)).
Issues On Appeal
appeal, Plaintiff alleges three errors: (1) the Residual
Functional Capacity (“RFC”) finding is erroneous;
(2) the credibility findings are not supported by substantial
evidence; and (3) the ALJ failed to develop vocational
testimony based on substantial evidence. (Pl. Br. at 4).
Facts in the Record
was born in December 1960 and thus is classified by the
regulations as an individual closely approaching advanced age
through the date of the ALJ decision. (Tr. 35); 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1563(d), 416.963(d). Plaintiff alleged
disability due to: (1) status post-surgery of bilateral
shoulders, one wrist, and one knee; (2) bilateral shoulder
pain which includes difficulty to lift or hold things; (3)
numbness in left wrist; (4) left knee painful to stand long;
(5) lower back pain, and; (6) arthritis in neck, chest,
shoulders, and arms. Pl. Br. at 1-2. Plaintiff completed the
twelfth grade. (Tr. 207). The vocational expert testified
that Plaintiff's past relevant work consisted of working
as a customer service manager, which was classified as medium
work and with an SVP level of 7. (Tr. 86-87).
Orthopedic Surgeon: Eugene Feild, M.D.
Field treated Plaintiff from March 2009 to October 2010 (Tr.
301-326). Dr. Feild operated on the Plaintiff's right
shoulder on December 4, 2009, (Tr. 283-300) and on her left
shoulder on March 5, 2010 (Tr. 275-282). On May 6, 2010, Dr.
Feild stated that Plaintiff presented with a full range of
motion and stated that:
Even though she has had both shoulders operated it is
unlikely that she will qualify for any significant disability
from a Social Security standpoint. She is anxious to return
to her activities and return to work. I therefore have
released her with restrictions primarily for avoidance of
overhead work but she may return to full under shoulder
activity and lifting without weight restrictions. [Plaintiff]
is, in my opinion, maximally medically improved.
(Tr. 305). In an attached report Dr. Feild released Plaintiff
to modified work as of May 6, 2010, with a permanent
restriction of above chest and overhead reaching. (Tr. 306).
Dr. Feild opined that continuing treatment or vocational
rehabilitation was unnecessary. (Tr. 306).
Workers' Compensation Evaluations: William Gillock,
March 2011, Dr. Gillock examined Plaintiff and noted that the
motor function of the shoulders was normal, no crepitance was
noted on range of motion (ROM) testing, left hand had normal
motor function. (Tr. 437-38). In the March 2011 evaluation,
Dr. Gillock assigned a fifteen percent permanent partial
impairment rating to the left arm, which converted to a nine
permanent partial impairment to the left shoulder. (Tr. 438).
April 2011 examination, Dr. Gillock observed normal sitting
posture, standing posture, gait, no assistive devices, no
tenderness upon palpation, normal sensor examination of the
lower extremities, Straight Leg Raise (“SLR”)
produced back pain at thirty degrees of elevation
bilaterally, and motor function of the shoulders were normal.
(Tr. 445-48). Dr. Gillock concluded that Plaintiff reached
maximum medical improvement and had no permanent partial
impairment to her neck, shoulders, left arm, hands or low
back from her alleged injuries. (Tr. 449).
2012, Dr. Gillock reviewed diagnostic testing and upon
examination observed that motor function in Plaintiff's
shoulders were normal, there was no crepitance upon range of
motion testing of the shoulders (Tr. 455). Dr. Gillock noted
that the range of motion in the right shoulder was less than
the left shoulder. (Tr. 455). Plaintiff's right arm
flexion was 120 degrees, while left was 150 degrees, right
abduction was 120 degrees while left was 140 degrees, right
internal and external rotation was 60 degrees and the left
was 90 degrees. (Tr. 455). Dr. Gillock concluded Plaintiff
had a nineteen percent permanent partial impairment to her
right arm, nine percent due to loss of motion and ten percent
due to resection arthroplasty of the distal clavicle. (Tr.
October 2012, Dr. Gillock again reviewed Plaintiff's
medical history and report of symptoms. (Tr. 458-460) Dr.
Gillock noted that Plaintiff had a period of temporary total
disability from April 13, 2012, to June 7, 2012. (Tr. 461).
Upon examination, Dr. Gillock observed that Plaintiff had a
normal gait, no ambulatory aids were used, no instability was
present in the anterior and posterior drawer testing, sensory
and motor testing of the leg was normal, and, flexion was 110
degrees in left knee and 130 degrees in the right knee. (Tr.
461-62). Dr. Gillock opined Plaintiff had a seven percent
permanent partial impairment to her left knee, released her
without restrictions, and said she did not require vocational
rehabilitation. (Tr. 462). Dr. Gillock added, “I find
no evidence of injury or impairment to any other body
part.” (Tr. 462).
April 2013, Dr. Gillock examined Plaintiff and observed that
her gait was normal and she did not use any ambulatory aids.
(Tr. 384). Regarding range of motion testing, Dr. Gillock
noted (1) bilateral shoulder adduction at fifty degrees and
internal and external rotation at thirty degrees; (2)
bilateral elbows with zero degrees extension, 150 degrees
flexion, eighty degrees pronation, and eighty degrees
supination, and; (3) bilateral wrists with sixty degrees
extension and flexion, twenty degrees radial deviation, and
thirty degrees ulnar deviation. (Tr. 385). Dr. Gillock
concluded that Plaintiff was not permanently and totally
disabled. (Tr. 386).
Workers' Compensation ...