Another “feel like zombie” Social Security case
Recall prior ZombieLaw post about feels-like-zombie cases. Here’s another Social Security appeal decided just this week, May 22, 2012:
KATHY ANN BLAKE, Plaintiff, v. MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
Case No.: 3:11-cv-00317
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF WEST VIRGINIA, HUNTINGTON DIVISION
2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71135
Decided – May 22, 2012
OPINION BY: Cheryl A. Eifert
Describing plaintiff’s history before onset of alleged disability:
On July 20, 2005, Claimant was seen at Carl Johnson Medical Center complaining of pain related to her motor vehicle accident and depression. (Tr. at 185). Claimant was examined by Larissa Pitts, Certified Family Nurse Practitioner, who noted that Claimant had a history of depression and had tried Zoloft without relief of her symptoms. Claimant also reported constant, aching leg pain, with numbness and tingling, which she rated as an eight in severity on a ten point pain scale. Nurse Pitts diagnosed Claimant with depression and lower leg pain. She prescribed an anti-depressant, Lexapro, recommended counseling, referred Claimant to an orthopedist for an evaluation of the leg pain, and instructed Claimant to return in one month. On August 22, 2005, Claimant returned to the Medical Center. (Tr. at 184). She reported that she had stopped taking Zoloft three days earlier because it made her “feel like a zombie.” Claimant refused another anti-depressant at that time. She indicated that her lower back continued to hurt and described feeling a “pop” in her lower back with associated pain in her right leg. On examination, Nurse Pitts noted that Claimant retained a full range of motion in her extremities, had a negative straight leg raising test, and walked with a steady gait. Nurse Pitts diagnosed Claimant with low back pain and depression. She ordered an MRI of Claimant’s lumbar spine and encouraged her to keep her appointment with the orthopedist. She also instructed Claimant to monitor her depression for worsening, seek counseling if necessary, and maintain her activity level.
The Court then concluded against the Plaintiff:
Here, the ALJ did not find Claimant capable of performing a full range of light work. Instead, he determined that Claimant had the physical strength to lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently, which meet the lifting/carrying requirements of light work, but he then reduced the range of light work that Claimant could perform in view of her additional nonexertional restrictions. (Tr. at 17-21). The ALJ properly included all of these limitations and restrictions in his hypothetical questions to the vocational expert. (Tr. 57-58). With full attention given to Claimant’s individualized RFC, the vocational expert found a significant number of jobs in the national and regional economy that Claimant could perform. (Tr. at 58-59). This testimony validated the ALJ’s conclusion that occupations in the light exertional level were appropriate for Claimant despite her limitations and restrictions.
After a careful consideration of the evidence of record, the Court finds that the Commissioner’s decision IS supported by substantial evidence. Therefore, by Judgment Order entered this day, the final decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED and this matter is DISMISSED from the docket of this Court