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Martin v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Beaufort Division

March 11, 2019

Laura Martin, Plaintiff,
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.


          R. Bryan Harwell United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Laura Martin brought this action pursuant to 42');">2');">2');">2 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her claim for supplemental security income (“SSI”). This matter is now before the Court for review of the Report and Recommendation (“R & R”) of United States Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant, made in accordance with 2');">2');">2');">28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rules 73.02');">2');">2');">2(B)(2');">2');">2');">2)(a) and 83.VII.02');">2');">2');">2 (D.S.C.). [ECF # 17]. The Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court affirm the decision of the Commissioner. [ECF #17, 2');">2');">2');">20');">p. 2');">2');">2');">20]. This Court has thoroughly reviewed the record in this case and now issues the following Order.

         Statement of Facts and Procedural History

          This Court is tasked with reviewing the denial of Plaintiff's application for disability benefits. Plaintiff applied for supplemental security income (“SSI”) on May 9, 2');">2');">2');">2014, alleging a disability date of January 2');">2');">2');">28, 2');">2');">2');">2013 due to diabetic retinopathy, spondylolysis, bipolar type I with depression, spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, borderline personality disorder, and anxiety with panic attacks, as well as a frozen left shoulder, MRSA infection, neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, and issues with two broken feet. [ECF #10-6, Ex. 1D; ECF #10-7, Ex. 3E]. Plaintiff has a history of diabetes mellitus type I. In July of 2');">2');">2');">2012');">2');">2');">2, Plaintiff underwent an EMG which showed bilateral median neuropathy and peripheral neuropathy. [ECF #10-12');">2');">2');">2, Ex. 5F]. In May of the following year, an MRI of Plaintiff's shoulder revealed what appeared to be a small superficial labral tear, as well as a small infraspinatus tendon defect on the articular side. [ECF #10-12');">2');">2');">2, Ex. 7F]. In October of 2');">2');">2');">2013, Plaintiff was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, psychotic disorder, anxiety disorder and borderline personality disorder. [ECF #10-12');">2');">2');">2; Ex. 4F]. Plaintiff continued to experience left shoulder pain and left foot pain. She also continued to experience neuropathy in her feet, and she reported frequent falls due to this condition. [ECF #10-14, Ex. 11F]. She was evaluated in January of 2');">2');">2');">2014 for her shoulder pain and was assessed with left shoulder capsulitis and referred to physical therapy. [ECF #10-15, Ex. 13F]. In March, after landing funny on her feet, an x-ray revealed fractures in both of her feet; however, the fractures were inoperable. [ECF #10-10, Ex. 3F; ECF #10-12');">2');">2');">2, Ex. 7F]. A bone scan on March 2');">2');">2');">28, 2');">2');">2');">2014 revealed she suffers from osteopenia. [ECF #10-10, Ex. 3F]. Plaintiff continued to experience issues with neuropathy, depression, and issues related to her foot fractures, as well as lingering effects of a MRSA infection. [ECF #10-14, Ex. 12');">2');">2');">2F].

         On June 6, 2');">2');">2');">2014, Dr. Julie Arellano completed an assessment form, indicating that Plaintiff had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, psychotic disorder not otherwise specified, post traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder. Dr. Arellano opined that Plaintiff's symptoms caused a moderate severity of restriction of daily living, marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning and moderate difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace and would have repeated episodes of decompensation. She also opined that Plaintiff would be absent from work more than 2');">2');">2');">2 days per month. [ECF #10-13, Ex. 8F]. She further opined that Plaintiff would have complete inability to function independently outside the area of her home. [ECF #10-13, Ex. 8F].

         Plaintiff's problems persisted, and on September 6, 2');">2');">2');">2015, Plaintiff was admitted to the hospital with a 1-2');">2');">2');">2 week long history of hyperglycemia, polydipsia, polyuria, and nausea. She reported at this time that she had fibromyalgia pain in her right arm and right foot. She was discharged with diagnosis of hyperglycemia. [ECF #10-16; Ex. 19F]. Two months later, she presented again with fibromyalgia pain. [ECF #10-17; Ex. 2');">2');">2');">21F]. Plaintiff's problems, including persistent complaints of issues related to diabetes and mental issues continued through 2');">2');">2');">2016.

         Plaintiff applied for disability on May 9, 2');">2');">2');">2014. Plaintiff's claim was denied initially and upon reconsideration. After she requested and was granted a hearing, the ALJ denied her claim on February 10, 2');">2');">2');">2017. Plaintiff's request for a review by the Appeals Council was eventually denied, making the findings and determination of the ALJ the final decision of the Commissioner. The ALJ reviewed all of the medical history in the record, as well as Plaintiff's testimony at the hearing. The ALJ subsequently came up with several findings.

         The ALJ's findings were as follows:

(1) The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 9, 2');">2');">2');">2014, the application date (2');">2');">2');">20 CFR 416.971 et seq.).
(2');">2');">2');">2) The claimant has the following severe impairments: diabetes mellitus, peripheral neuropathy, bilateral shoulder adhesive capsulitis, Duputyrens contractures, history or MRSA infection, anxiety, borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder (2');">2');">2');">20 CFR 416.92');">2');">2');">20(c)).
(3) The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 2');">2');">2');">20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (2');">2');">2');">20 CFR 416.92');">2');">2');">20(d), 416.92');">2');">2');">25 and 416.92');">2');">2');">26).
(4) After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 2');">2');">2');">20 CFR 404.967(a) except no climbing ladders/scaffolds, occasional climbing ramps/stairs, balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, crawling; frequent fingering and handling bilaterally and occasional overhead reaching. The claimant can have no exposure to vibration or work hazards. She has the ability to concentrate for two-hour increments in the performance of simple, repetitive tasks, but should not work in a fast-paced production environment.
(5) The claimant is unable to perform past relevant work. (2');">2');">2');">20 CFR 416.92');">2');">2');">25).
(6) The claimant was born on March 2');">2');">2');">23, 1974 and was 40 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the date the application was ...

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