Amiths v. Social Security Administration
ORDER affirming the Commissioner's decision and denial of benefits. Signed by Judge D. P. Marshall Jr. on 11/14/2013. (jak)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
BEVERLY DEANN AMITHS
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner,
Social Security Administration
Amiths has a bad back and fibromyalgia. She applied for disability
benefits, maintaining that her back pain prevents her from working. The
Commissioner's ALJ determined she can do light work with a sit/ stand option,
including her past work as a small parts assembler and a cashier. Because a
person isn't disabled if she can do her past work, the ALJ denied the
application for disability benefits. Amiths appeals. The Court must determine
whether- considering supporting and contrary evidence- substantial evidence
supports the Commissioner's decision. Prosch v. Apfel, 201 F.3d 1010, 1012 (8th
Amiths challenges the evaluation of her credibility.
She says the
evaluation was based on a selective view of the evidence. In evaluating
credibility, an ALJ must consider all of the evidence and follow a two-step
process. McCoy v. Astrue, 648 F.3d 605, 614 (8th Cir. 2011); SSR 96-7p. The ALJ
in this case used the two-step process, applied the required factors, and
considered all of the evidence. Thus, the question before the Court is whether
substantial evidence supports the credibility evaluation.
"The ALJ may discount complaints of pain if they are inconsistent with
the evidence as a whole." Dunahoo v. Apfel, 241 F.3d 1033, 1038 (8th Cir. 2001).
The ALJ determined that the medical findings are inconsistent with disabling
Substantial evidence supports this determination because treating
physicians identified no cause for disabling pain.
Twenty-two months after back surgery, diagnostic imaging showed postoperative changes at the sites of the earlier surgery, but no nerve root
abnormality. Imaging done two months later showed degenerative disc
disease at multiple levels causing mild stenosis, with the exception of mild to
moderate stenosis where the last lumbar verebrae connects to the sacrum.
Stenosis can pressure the sciatic nerve roots and cause low back pain which
may radiate to the buttocks and legs. The presence of stenosis supports
Amiths' s complaints of pain, but the conservative treatment prescribed by
doctors does not suggest disabling pain. Black v. Apfel, 143 F.3d 383, 386 (8th
Amiths' s gait and muscle strength have been consistently normal. Her
doctor recommended routine exercise. The recommendation for exercise is
inconsistent with a claim of disabling pain and limitation. Myers v. Colvin, 721
F.3d 521, 527 (8th Cir. 2013). Amiths reported decreased fibromyalgia pain
with medication therapy. Pain which can be controlled with treatment is not
disabling. Estes v. Barnhart, 275 F.3d 722, 725 (8th Cir. 2002). Sufficient
evidence supports the credibility evaluation.
Amiths also challenges the determination about her ability to work, but
a reasonable mind would accept the diagnostic imaging, the recommendation
for exercise, and pain relief with medication as adequate to show Amiths can
do her past work as an assembler or a cashier. These jobs can be done without
a good deal of walking or standing. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b) & 416.967(b).
Amiths can lift the required 20 pounds. Substantial evidence supports light
work with a sit/ stand option.
The Court affirms the denial of benefits.
D.P. Ma~shall Jr. !I
United States District Judge
AJ6veuwJ1A. ~o 13
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