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Hensley v. Commissioner of Social Security

August 27, 2009

HAROLD HENSLEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas J. McAVOY Senior United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

Harold Hensley ("Plaintiff") brought this suit under section 205(g) of the Social Security Act ("Act"), as amended, 42 U.S.C. section 405(g), to review a final determination of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying Plaintiff's application for disability and supplemental security benefits.

I. FACTS

a. Procedural History

Plaintiff applied for Social Security Disability ("SSD") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits on July 22, 2005. On October 26, 2005, the applications were denied. Plaintiff filed a timely request for hearing. A video teleconference hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") on November 7, 2007. After the hearing, the record was held open and new evidence was submitted.

In a decision dated December 27, 2007, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled. The Appeals Council denied the request for review. Plaintiff commenced the present action seeking review of the Commissioner's decision.

b. Medical History

Plaintiff was born on July 30, 1961. He had prior work experience as an electrician and a maintenance person. He last worked on February 15, 2003.

Plaintiff received primary care treatment from physician's assistant Paul Hodgeman from 2004 through 2007. During this period, Plaintiff received treatment for various ailments, including hemorrhoids, hyperlipedemia, GERD, allergies, sinusitis, depression, bilateral knee pain, right lateral epicondylitis, low back pain and smoking cessation. The examinations of Plaintiff over this period were unremarkable. Plaintiff's anxiety was noted to be controlled and stable with medication. Examination of the knee demonstrated no obvious gross edema, and negative drawers and McMurray's tests bilaterally with some palpable edema and crunching noted. His distal pulses and sensation were intact. With respect to his back pain, Plaintiff was found to have limited flexion due to discomfort. The straight leg raises were negative and his reflexes found to be intact.

On November 29, 2007, Hodgeman completed an evaluation finding that Plaintiff could only sit, stand or walk for one hour at a time out of an 8 hour workday and that he could sit, stand, or walk for a total of three hours each during an 8 hour workday. Plaintiff was found to be able to lift and carry up to 10 pounds occasionally. Plaintiff was determined to be able to use his hands for simple grasping, pushing and pulling (arms and legs), and fine manipulation. Hodgeman found that Plaintiff could never bend, squat, crawl or climb and could occasionally reach. On January 14, 2008 (after the ALJ's decision), Dr. Martin signed Hodgeman's report stating that he agreed with Hodgeman's conclusions.

Commencing in July 2005, Plaintiff received mental health treatment for anxiety and alcohol abuse with Douglas Beattie, M.A. During his treatment, Plaintiff was found to be "good" in the areas of: attention and concentration, orientation, memory, information, and insight and judgment. Plaintiff was able to perform calculations, do serial sevens, etc. Plaintiff was found to have good grooming, but was noted to have anxiety that could be a problem in the work environment. Plaintiff was found to have a global assessment of functioning of 59 (out of 100). Beattie noted that Plaintiff had dysthymic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, general medical stomach problem, and psychosocial environmental problems. Beattie deferred diagnosis on Axis II. Beattie did not note Plaintiff as having any limitations. Beattie also noted that he was unable to provide a medical opinion regarding Plaintiff's ability to do work-related activities. Plaintiff discontinued seeing Beattie in February 2007. At that time, Beattie found Plaintiff to have dysthymic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and psychosocial environmental problems, with a global assessment of functioning of 59.

Plaintiff's elbows were treated by an orthopedist who, in November 2006, found Plaintiff to have full active range of motion, no atrophy, and full strength. Plaintiff was noted to have distinct tenderness of bilateral epicondyles.

Dr. Pranab Datta perform a medical consultative examination on September 14, 2005. Dr. Datta's physical and mental examinations were largely unremarkable. Dr. Datta concluded that Plaintiff's prognosis was good and that he has no limitations with speech, hearing, his upper extremities, or in sitting. Plaintiff was found to have mild limitations with gross motor activities using his left shoulder and prolonged walking, standing or climbing. Plaintiff was to avoid heavy lifting and carrying.

Dr. Mary Ann Moore performed a consultative psychiatric evaluation on September 14, 2005. Dr. Moore found that Plaintiff could understand simple directions and instructions, perform simple rote tasks and consistently perform simple tasks. Plaintiff was found to have mild impairment with attention and concentration. His memory was intact. Dr. Moore concluded that Plaintiff has the ability to learn simplistic and complex tasks, although his anxiety increases with complex information. Plaintiff was noted to have difficulty dealing with stress and to be withdrawn and anxious when being around other people, which "could cause problems with working with co-workers and the public." Plaintiff's depression and anxiety were found to possibly cause problems with making appropriate ...


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