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.

Reynolds v. Berryhill

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

July 8, 2019

TIMOTHY RAY REYNOLDS PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          LANNY KING, MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         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. The fact and law summaries of Plaintiff and Defendant are at Dockets # 18 and 21. 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 # 10.)

         The Court will REMAND this matter to the Commissioner for a new decision because the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) failed to consider the vocational impact of Plaintiff's urination urgency and did not give good reasons for discounting the opinion of his treating physician.

         The ALJ erred in failing to consider the vocational impact of Plaintiff's urination urgency.

         Plaintiff suffers from a congenital kidney/bladder condition. (Administrative Record (“AR”) at 68, 282.) He testified that “I have three kidneys.” (AR at 68.) The ALJ noted that a “CT scan revealed a duplicated right renal collection system with two separate non-dilated ureters [and] a left renal cyst.” (AR at 22 referencing AR at 282.) Plaintiff has been diagnosed with bladder cancer. (AR at 19.) The ALJ acknowledged that Plaintiff suffers from a severe, or vocationally significant, kidney disorder and bladder cancer. (Id.)

         Plaintiff testified that “I just have pain in my kidneys”; “I'll probably go to the bathroom 12 to 15 times a day”; it “comes on quickly [so] I've got to stay close to a restroom.” (AR at 46-47.) The VE testified that Plaintiff would be unemployable if he must “always have access to a bathroom close by” and “needs to go whenever [he] need[s] to go” (i.e., not just during scheduled breaks). (AR at 68.) The VE added that “I have worked with bladder and prostate cancer individuals and they cannot sustain employment because of their leaving the work station too often.” (AR at 69.) “It affects productivity and they eventually get terminated.” (Id.)

         The ALJ found that Plaintiff became disabled on April 4, 2017 (his fifty-fifth birthday) based on a direct application of Rule 202.06 of Appendix 2 of the regulations. (AR at 25.) For the closed period between May 21, 2015 (when Plaintiff alleges he became disabled) through April 3, 2017, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled because he retained the ability to perform a significant number of jobs in the national economy such as elevator operator, general office helper, assembler, and cashier. (AR at 24.) The ALJ based this finding of non-disability during the closed period upon a vocational hypothetical that explicitly accommodated no unscheduled bathroom breaks. (AR at 70-71.)

         Although the ALJ found that Plaintiff suffers from a vocationally-significant kidney disorder and bladder cancer, the ALJ included no work-related limitation (e.g., urination urgency) based on those impairments in formulating her residual functional capacity (RFC) finding. (AR at 19-20.) The ALJ's decision is also silent on the questions of whether Plaintiff requires frequent bathroom breaks (as alleged) and, if so, the frequency and duration of such breaks.

         A remand is required in this case for a new decision addressing the above questions for two reasons. First, “[t]he ALJ cannot have it both ways” when a disabling level or urination urgency is alleged. Jeley v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., No. 2:17-CV-396, 2018 WL 286169, at *6 (S.D. Ohio Jan. 4, 2018). “That is, the ALJ cannot find an impairment to be severe and then fail to include a ‘limitation associated with the impairment while fashioning an RFC.'” Id. (quoting Lutz v. Comm'r, No. 2:14-cv-725, 2015 WL 5343660, at *9 (S.D. Ohio Sept. 15, 2015)). Second, where a claimant alleged a need for frequent bathroom breaks and “the ALJ offered no analysis of the issue, the court [is] precluded from engaging in meaningful review and remand [is] warranted.” Hooks v. Comm'r, No. 3:13-CV-454, 2014 WL 4348182, at *7 (E.D. Tn. Sept. 2, 2014) (citing McNelis v. Comm'r, No. 08-12529, 2009 WL 3210713, at *6 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 29, 2009)). See also Sherrill v. Comm'r, No. 1:13-cv-276, 2014 WL 1338114, at *7 (S.D. Ohio April 2, 2014) (report adopted, 2014 WL 1672926) (remanding for the ALJ to “determine the frequency and duration of plaintiff's required bathroom breaks and the practical work-day limitations resulting therefrom in formulating plaintiff's RFC.”).

         The ALJ's decision failed to give good reasons for discounting Dr. Patel's opinions, which, if accepted, would preclude light work during the closed period.

         For the period between May 21, 2015 and April 3, 2017, the ALJ found that Plaintiff retained the ability to perform light work. (AR at 20.) “[T]he full range of light work requires standing or walking, off and on, for a total of approximately 6 hours of an 8-hour workday.” Social Security Ruling (SSR) 83-10, 1983 WL 31251, at *5. “Sitting may occur intermittently during the remaining time.” Id.

         Plaintiff testified that he could stand for “probably five to ten minutes” and walk for “maybe 50 yards” before having to sit down due to pain and fatigue and because his “left leg goes numb.” (AR at 50.) In February 2017, Plaintiff's treating physician, Bharat Patel, completed a medical assessment form, finding, among other things, that, during an 8-hour workday, Plaintiff could stand and walk continuously for 0 hours and could alternately sit for less than 2 hours and stand/walk for less than 2 hours. (AR at 763.) Dr. Patel stated that his opinion was premised upon the following diagnoses:

Severe DDD [degenerative disc disease] of entire spine, S/P [status post] lumbar surgery, CAD [coronary artery disease] with stents, radiculopathy with neuropathy of both legs, tach and HTN [tachycardia and hypertension], depression, cancer of bladder, dyslipidemia. Patient is totally disabled with no chance of recovery.

(Id.) The ALJ gave “no weight” to Dr. Patel's assessment because “the limitations provided are extreme and inconsistent with Dr. Patel's own treatment records and imagining[1]” and because “[d]uring the claimant's most recent office visit [with Dr. Patel, ] Dr. Patel indicated that [Plaintiff] had a ...


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.