Williams v. Social Security Administration Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Honorable Erin L. Setser on February 14, 2012. (lw)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
ANDREW R. WILLIAMS
CIVIL NO. 11-3002
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, Commissioner
Social Security Administration
Plaintiff, Andrew R. Williams, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking
judicial review of a decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(Commissioner) denying his claims for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits
(DIB) under the provisions of Title II of the Social Security Act (Act). In this judicial review,
the Court must determine whether there is substantial evidence in the administrative record to
support the Commissioner's decision. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Plaintiff protectively filed his current application for DIB on May 8, 2007, alleging an
inability to work since January 11, 2001,1 due to migraines with severe pain, memory loss and
confusion, anxiety, depression, and pancreatic attacks. (Tr. 96-97, 110). For DIB purposes,
Plaintiff maintained insured status through March 31, 2003. (Tr. 100). An administrative
At the hearing before the ALJ on October 22, 2008, Plaintiff amended his onset date to March 11, 2003. (Tr.
hearing was held on October 22, 2008, at which Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified.
By written decision dated January 14, 2009, the ALJ found that during the relevant time
period, Plaintiff had an impairment or combination of impairments that were severe. (Tr. 59).
Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: migraines, anxiety
and depression. However, after reviewing all of the evidence presented, he determined that
Plaintiff’s impairments did not meet or equal the level of severity of any impairment listed in the
Listing of Impairments found in Appendix I, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4. (Tr. 59). The ALJ
found that prior to March 31, 2003, Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to:
lift and carry 10 pounds occasionally and less than 10 pounds frequently. He can
sit for about 6 hours during an eight-hour workday and can stand and walk for
about 2 hours during an eight-hour workday. He can occasionally climb, balance,
stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. He cannot drive. He can perform low-stress,
(Tr. 59). With the help of a vocational expert, the ALJ determined that during the relevant time
period, Plaintiff could perform work as an assembly worker, a charge account clerk, and an
addressing clerk. (Tr. 64).
Plaintiff then requested a review of the hearing decision by the Appeals Council, which,
after reviewing additional evidence, denied that request on November 22, 2010. (Tr. 1-5).
Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action. (Doc. 1). This case is before the undersigned pursuant
to the consent of the parties. (Doc. 3). Both parties have filed appeal briefs, and the case is now
ready for decision. (Docs. 6,7).
At the administrative hearing held before the ALJ on October 22, 2008, Plaintiff who was
forty-three years of age at that time, testified that he had earned an associates degree of general
science. (Tr. 20, 22). Plaintiff reported that over the past year he had been able to complete three
free graphic design jobs. (Tr. 35-36). The record reflects Plaintiff’s past relevant work consists
of work as graphic designer. (Tr. 118).
The medical evidence dated prior to the relevant time period shows that Plaintiff was
seen by Dr. Burton Bledsoe on December 3, 2002, for a blood pressure follow-up.2 (Tr. 189).
Plaintiff reported that he had his teeth extracted the prior week, and since that time had stopped
smoking, but had smoked that day because he had run out of nicotine patches. Plaintiff reported
he had not taken his Hydrocodone in two days. He also reported feeling fatigued, and that he had
abdominal cramping, mild rhinorrhea and some problems with anxiety.
Plaintiff, Dr. Bledsoe diagnosed him with well-controlled hypertension; fatigue likely due to
nicotine withdrawal and lack of opiates; and allergic rhinitis. Plaintiff was to continue to take
Lotrel for his blood pressure and Allegra for his allergies. Plaintiff was to continue not smoking
and to use nicotine patches as needed, and to refrain from using opiates. Plaintiff was to followup in six months.
The medical evidence during the relevant time period of March 11, 2003, through March
31, 2003, revealed the following.
On March 11, 2003, Plaintiff complained of
temporomandibular joint pain with popping and headaches. (Tr. 190). Plaintiff reported
While not specifically addressed in this opinion, the Court notes that all of the medical evidence dated before
and after the relevant time period was reviewed. This included the additional evidence submitted to the Appeals
experiencing these symptoms for the past four months. Plaintiff also reported back pain for the
past three months. Plaintiff reported that the pain started about thirty minutes after he woke up
in the morning and lasted the entire day. Plaintiff reported that Motrin helped “a bit” to relieve
his symptoms. Plaintiff denied photophobia, nausea or vomiting. Plaintiff reported he had
migraines before and that he did not think this pain was a migraine. Dr. Bledsoe noted that:
[Plaintiff] was told that since he had a long time where he had no teeth...after the
dentures were done that his jaws were irreversibly damaged and would have pain
in temporomandibular joint regions unless [he] had implants.
(Id.). Plaintiff was noted to have spasm in his upper shoulders and back, but no radiation or pain
into the upper extremities. Dr. Bledsoe noted Plaintiff had no crepitation of the left or right
temporomandibular joints. Plaintiff also had full range of motion of the cervical spine without
pain. Dr. Bledsoe diagnosed Plaintiff with headaches, with possible rebound component but not
migraines; allergic rhinitis; and hypertension. Dr. Bledsoe gave Plaintiff Allegra samples and
a prescription for Flexeril. Dr. Bledsoe indicated he would keep Plaintiff on nsaids (nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs) for now, but that he might stop this medication due to rebound.
Plaintiff was to return in four to six weeks.
On April 10, 2003, Plaintiff came in for a follow-up appointment for his headaches and
hypertension. (Tr. 192). Plaintiff reported the same intensity and type of pain that seemed to
occur for an hour to an hour and a half. Plaintiff reported that the Flexeril knocked him out and
made him feel hung over the next day. Plaintiff reported that he had some nausea, but he thought
that was due to sinuses. Plaintiff also reported low back and neck pain. Plaintiff indicated that
he had taken a trip to Georgia and Alabama, and that he had increased issues with allergies while
there. Upon examination, Dr. Bledsoe noted Plaintiff had full range of motion of the cervical
spine and no tenderness to palpation. Dr. Bledsoe diagnosed Plaintiff with chronic daily
headaches, hypertension, and allergic rhinitis. Dr. Bledsoe indicated that he wanted to avoid
using opiates, and that Plaintiff wanted methadone, which Dr. Bledsoe was hesitant to prescribe.
Plaintiff was to limit his use of Hydrocodone, to stop Flexeril and to start Skelaxin; and to
continue Tylenol/Motrin for pain.
On September 5, 2007, Dr. Jim Takach, a non-examining medical consultant, completed
a RFC assessment stating that prior to March 31, 2003, Plaintiff could occasionally lift or carry
twenty pounds, frequently ten pounds; could stand and/or walk for about six hours in an eighthour workday; could sit for a total of about six hours in an eight-hour workday; and could push
or pull unlimited, other than as shown for lift and/or carry. (Tr. 276-283). Dr. Takach opined
Plaintiff could occasionally climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch or crawl; and that manipulative,
visual, communicative or environmental limitations were not evident. Dr. Takach’s notes stated:
41 yo with a hx of chronic diffuse PT myofascial pain - CX/LS - w/o
demonstrated nm loss UE/LE - chronic pain management with variable response
Hx of resection of a benign pancreatic mass - no sequelae demonstrated
Hx of uncomplicated HA’s
From the available MER - retained ability to function with LIGHT work
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?