United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
KING, MAGISTRATE JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's complaint
seeking judicial review, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g),
of the final decision of the Commissioner denying his claim
for Social Security disability benefits. The fact and law
summaries of Plaintiff and Defendant are at Dockets 15 and
16, and the case is ripe for determination.
parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned
Magistrate Judge to determine this case, with any appeal
lying before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Docket 13.
the administrative law judge's (ALJ's) decision is
supported by substantial evidence and is in accord with
applicable legal standards, the Court will AFFIRM the
Commissioner's final decision and DISMISS Plaintiff's
April 2016, the ALJ issued a decision. Administrative Record
(AR), pp. 168-180.
appealed the ALJ's decision to the Appeals Council. In
June 2016, while the appeal was pending, Plaintiff submitted
new medical evidence from March 2016. Jeffrey Schnell, Doctor
of Podiatric Medicine (DPM), noted that:
“[Plaintiff's] bilateral ankle is unstable and weak
with laxity and loss of stability noted with range of motion.
With muscle testing the patient has pain in the ankle with
palpation under stress. Pain is noted along both the lateral
and medial side of the ankle with most of the pain coming
from the lateral soft tissue structures.” AR, p. 725.
Henri-Claude Richard, M.D., interpreted an imagining study as
showing that Plaintiff also suffers from “arthritic
changes affecting the lower cervical and mid dorsal
vertebrae.” AR, p. 747.
August 2016, the Appeals Council considered this new
evidence, found that it was material (i.e., if the evidence
had been before the ALJ, there is a reasonable probability of
a different decision), and remanded the case to the ALJ for
reconsideration of the ALJ's decision in light of the new
and material evidence. AR, pp. 186-187.
March 2017, the ALJ issued a new decision. The ALJ summarized
the new and material evidence as consisting of:
“evidence form a primary care provider [Dr. Schnell]
showing arthritic changes affecting the lower cervical and
mid dorsal vertebra [and] image study evidence [from Dr.
Richards] showing osteoarthritic changes of the
claimant's feet and medical examination showing
instability and weakness with laxity in the bilateral
ankles.” AR, pp. 33-34.
modified his prior findings; recognized that Plaintiff
suffers from additional severe, or vocationally significant,
impairments; and found that these impairments result in
additional work- related restrictions.
the prior decision found that Plaintiff suffers from severe
“diabetes mellitus, chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease (COPD), cardiomyopathy, and neuropathy” (AR, p.
170), the new decision added that he suffers from
“obesity, tobacco abuse, arthritis of the back, and
osteoarthritis of the bilateral ankles.” AR, p. 24.
prior decision found that Plaintiff's impairments limit
him to a residual functional capacity (RFC) for light
with the following additional restrictions: “limited to
frequent use of the bilateral lower extremities for pushing,
pulling or operation of foot controls, no climbing of
ladders, ropes, or scaffolding, limited to occasional
climbing of ramps and stairs, limited to frequent crawling,
and should avoid concentrated exposure to hazards,
unprotected heights, and moving machinery.” AR, p. 174.
The new decision reaffirmed that Plaintiff is limited to
light work but added that his impairments limit him to
occasional (as opposed to frequent) use of the bilateral
lower extremities (an accommodation to Plaintiff's
osteoarthritis of the bilateral ankles); occasional (as
opposed to frequent) crawling; occasional (as opposed to
unrestricted) stooping and crouching; a need to avoid
concentrated exposure to extreme cold and heat; and a need
for a sit/stand option at thirty minute intervals. AR, p. 28.
found that additional limitations are unwarranted due to:
“evidence of record as a whole demonstrating
conservative medical treatment, and the claimant reporting
engaging in activities including exercising daily by walking
and lifting weights (Exhibit 8F) [AR, pp. 677-694], working
part time as a forklift driver, and raking leaves
(testimony).” AR, p. 34.
ALJ's decision became the Commissioner's final
decision, subject to this judicial review, when the Appeals
Council declined to review the ALJ's ...