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Maynard v. Commissioner of Social Security

March 30, 2010

TERRY R. MAYNARD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Craig M. Kellison United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff, who is proceeding with retained counsel, brings this action for judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Pursuant to the written consent of all parties, this case is before the undersigned as the presiding judge for all purposes, including entry of final judgment. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Pending before the court are plaintiff's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 19) and defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment (Doc. 23).

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff applied for social security benefits in November 2005. In the application, plaintiff claims that disability began on June 1, 2001. Plaintiff claims that disability is caused by a combination of: (1) subacromial bursitis with frozen shoulder component; (2) back and shoulder pain with arthritic changes in the thoracic, lumbar, and shoulder areas; and (3) carpel tunnel syndrome. Plaintiff's claim was initially denied. Following denial of reconsideration, plaintiff requested an administrative hearing, which was held on August 28, 2007, before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Plauche F. Villere, Jr. In a September 17, 2007, decision, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff is not disabled based on the following relevant findings:

1. The claimant has the following severe impairments: bilateral carpel tunnel syndrome, left shoulder pain, and low back pain;

2. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments which meets or medically equals an impairment listed in the regulations;

3. The claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of light work; and

4. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, the regulations direct a finding of not disabled.

After the Appeals Council declined review on August 21, 2008, this appeal followed.

II. SUMMARY OF THE EVIDENCE

The certified administrative record ("CAR") contains the following evidence, summarized chronologically below:

October 17, 2005 -- X-rays of plaintiff's lumbosacral spine revealed mild chronic changes with no acute process.

January 28, 2006 -- Agency examining doctor Steve McIntire, M.D., performed a comprehensive neurological examination. Dr. McIntire reported the following history:

The claimant described a work injury in approximately 1980. He was working as a cabinetmaker at the time. He developed significant lumbar pains. He underwent a work-up, including radiographic studies, at the time. I do not have that radiographic report. I have a more recent radiographic study done in October 2005 that revealed mild chronic changes at the lumbar level. There were mild multi-level degenerative changes noted. The claimant denied a history of surgery of the spine. He underwent physical therapy and got somewhat better with time. He currently describes lumbar pains that come and go. The pains occur over the right or left buttock and can extend into the proximal thigh on the right or left side. He did not describe clear radicular symptoms. His pains come on currently when he does too much work.

The claimant also described a history of carpal tunnel syndrome. He indicated that the symptoms in his hand began approximately 10 years ago. He has not had surgery for the carpal tunnel syndrome. He has apparently had an EMG/nerve conduction study, but I do not have this result to review. He was provided wrist splints for a time, but is not currently using them. He indicated that at present he notes occasional numbness of the hands, which occurs diffusely. It involves all digits of the hands when it occurs. It comes and goes. Occasionally it occurs at night.

Plaintiff did not report taking any medications for his various problems. Following his examination, Dr. McIntire provided the following functional assessment:

Subjectively, the claimant presents with complaints of lumbar discomfort and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Objectively, there is slight flattening of the normal lumbar curvature and loss of range of motion of the lumbar spine. There are not, however, findings of a lumbar radiculopathy or a myelopathy. He may have mild carpal tunnel syndrome, but there are not findings on examination to suggest significant carpal tunnel syndrome. There are not medial nerve distribution findings.

Given the lumbar findings and loss of range of motion, the claimant would have functional limitations. He would be limited in terms of heavy lifting or carrying activities to not more than 20 pounds frequently or 40 pounds occasionally. The current examination itself does not point to additional specific functional limitations. There are not limitations suggested in terms of time sitting, standing, or walking. There are not postural, manipulative, environmental, communicative, or cognitive limitations suggested by the present examination.

March 1, 2006 -- Agency consultative doctor P.A. Bianchi, M.D., prepared a physical residual functional capacity assessment. Dr. Bianchi opined that plaintiff could occasionally lift/carry 50 pounds and frequently lift/carry 25 pounds. Plaintiff was limited to standing/walking/sitting for no more than six hours in a work day. Plaintiff was not limited in his ability to push/pull. No postural, manipulative, visual communicative, or environmental limitations were noted.

March 28, 2006 -- Minor abnormalities were noted on x-rays of plaintiff's left shoulder.

March 30, 2006 -- Treatment notes indicate that plaintiff reported severe left shoulder pain. The doctor observed severe guarding and an inability to perform impingement maneuvers or cross-body adduction. The doctor assessed subacromial bursitis with frozen shoulder ...


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