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.

Denkins v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division

September 24, 2018

JERETT DENKINS PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Lanny King, Magistrate Judge United States District Court.

         This 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. Plaintiff's fact and law summaries is at Docket # 14, and Defendant's fact and law summary is at Docket # 19. This matter is ripe for determination. The 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 # 7).

         Plaintiff argues that the administrative law judge (ALJ) erred in giving great weight to the opinion of the Commissioner's non-examining source that he can perform light work. The argument is unpersuasive due to lack of any other opinion in the administrative record regarding what Plaintiff can still do despite his impairments and because there is no indication that subsequent evidence rendered the non-examining source opinion untenable.

         Therefore, the Court will AFFIRM the Commissioner's final decision and DISMISS Plaintiff's complaint.

         The ALJ's decision on Plaintiff's disability claim

         Plaintiff alleges disability due to degenerative disc disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, and obesity. (Administrative Record (“AR”), p. 145).

         In October 2014, Donna Sadler, M.D., reviewed the available medical evidence at the request of the Commissioner and completed the standard physical assessment form consistently with an ability to perform light work. (AR, pp. 288-90).

         At the May 2016 administrative hearing, the vocational expert (VE) testified that an individual having Plaintiff's age, education, and work experience, who is restricted to light work, could perform a significant number of jobs in the national economy, including laundry folder, monogram machine tender, and electrical equipment inspector. (AR, p. 201). The VE further testified that, if restricted to sedentary work, the individual could perform the jobs of small product sorter, escort vehicle driver, and jewelry stone setter. (AR, p. 202). If restricted to only occasional use of the hands for fine manipulative tasks such as handling and fingering, the individual could still do the jobs identified above except that the light inspector job would have to be replaced with the job of children's attendant and the sedentary setter job would have to be replaced with the job of surveillance systems monitor. (Id.). The jobs allow for some alternate sitting/standing provided the individual can sit and stand for at least 30 minutes at a time. (Id.).

         In her June 2016 decision, the ALJ found that “[l]acking any function-by-function work limitations set forth by any treating source, the undersigned gives great weight to [Dr. Sadler's] determination.” (AR, p. 152). The ALJ found that Plaintiff is able to perform light work (AR, p. 146) and concluded that he is not disabled because, although he can no longer perform past relevant work, he retains the ability to perform a significant number of jobs in the national economy (AR, p. 154). Examples of such jobs are light laundry folder, monogram machine tender, and electrical equipment inspector. (AR, p. 154).

         Plaintiff's argument is unpersuasive.

         Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in giving “great” weight to Dr. Sadler's October 2014 opinion (AR, p. 152) because it failed to take into account significant post-October 2014 medical evidence. Specifically, it did not take into account evidence from board-certified neurologist Thomas Gruber, M.D. (AR, pp. 799-813), board-certified doctor of nursing practice, family nurse practitioner (DNP, FNP-BC) M. Shane Rust (AR, pp. 718-98, 814), certified physician's assistant (PA-C) Reetha Guminski (AR, pp. 101, 815- 22), and Lourdes Physical Therapy (AR, pp. 206-35, 841-71).

         In a “to whom it may concern” letter from April 2016, Dr. Rust opined that Plaintiff will not recover enough to resume the physically demanding duties of his job as an electrician due to low back and neck pain, with radiation of pain, numbness, and tingling into his legs and hands. (AR, p. 814). In April 2016, PA Guminski opined similarly. (AR, pp. 815-16). The ALJ found that Plaintiff cannot perform his past relevant work as an electrician, which was medium. (AR, p. 153).

         Plaintiff's argument is unpersuasive for three reasons.

         First, the above medical evidence consists of raw medical findings that contains no medical opinion regarding what Plaintiff can still do despite his impairments (i.e., his function-by-function work limitations). See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(a)(2) (Treatment notes do not qualify as medical opinions unless they “reflect judgments about the nature and severity of your impairment(s), including your symptoms, diagnosis and prognosis, what you can still do despite impairment(s), and your physical or mental restrictions”). Neither Plaintiff, the ALJ, nor the Court has the medical expertise necessary to opine whether the raw medical findings do or do not preclude light work. See Rudd v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 531 Fed.Appx. 719, ...


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.