Wilson v. Colvin
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS: granting 12 Motion to Affirm filed by Carolyn W. Colvin, denying 10 Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Margaret Wilson, adopting 15 Report and Recommendations, Signed by District Judge Daniel P. Jordan, III on 9/25/2017 (cwl)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:16-CV-71-DPJ-LRA
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, ACTING COMMISSIONER
OF SOCIAL SECURITY
Plaintiff Margaret Wilson contests the Social Security Administration’s finding that she
is not disabled. Wilson raises four points of error, all of which the magistrate judge thoroughly
addressed in a well-researched Report and Recommendation . While the Court adopts that
recommendation in its entirety, it will offer a few additional thoughts.
As a general matter, this is one of those cases that leaves a bitter taste. The Court
conducted an exhaustive review of the record as a whole and admittedly was left with different
conclusions than those the ALJ adopted. But as the magistrate judge correctly noted, the Court
may “not re-weigh the evidence, try the questions de novo, or substitute [its] judgment for the
Commissioner’s, even if [it] believe[s] the evidence weighs against the Commissioner’s
decision.” Masterson v. Barnhart, 309 F.3d 267, 272 (5th Cir. 2002). This standard exists for a
reason. The undersigned is limited to a cold record and was not present to see Plaintiff and hear
her testimony. Ultimately, the ALJ applied the correct legal standards, and for the reasons stated
in the Report and Recommendation, substantial evidence supported her conclusions. The
decision must therefore be affirmed.
More substantively, there are two objections the Court will further address. First, Wilson
says the ALJ improperly weighed her credibility, failing to account for her “pain disorder.” At
Step Three of the sequential analysis, the ALJ included “pain disorder” among the severe
impairments that had been established. See Rec.  at 16.1 But at the next step, the ALJ
concluded that this disorder did not meet or medically equal the severity of the impairment in 20
C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. More specifically, it did not meet or medically equal
the requirements of 12.07 (somatoform disorder). Id. at 17. Moving to Step Five, the ALJ
concluded that Wilson suffers pain, “however, the claimant’s statements concerning the
intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of these symptoms are not entirely credible for the
reasons explained in this decision.” Id. at 20.
In her objections, Wilson suggests that she has somatoform disorder. “The basic feature
of somatoform disorders is the presence of physical symptoms for which there are no
demonstrable organic findings.” Latham v. Shalala, 36 F.3d 482, 484 (5th Cir. 1994) (citing 20
C.F.R. subpt. P, app. 1, § 12.07 (1994)). She then says: “[A]n ALJ may not find that a claimant
with somatoform disorder lacks credibility because the symptoms are not supported by objective
medical data.” Pl.’s Obj.  at 5. 2
That general statement is somewhat true. In Latham v. Shalala, there was evidence that
the claimant (Latham) might have somatoform, yet the ALJ dismissed his complaints of pain
because “Latham’s physical ailments were not serious.” 36 F.3d at 484. The Fifth Circuit found
that the ALJ should have complied with 20 C.F.R. § 404.1529(b) and investigated the possibility
that the “pain symptoms existed as a result of the disorder.” Id.
All record cites reference CM/ECF numbering.
The Court will assume for purposes of this Order that “pain disorder” is synonymous with
somatoform, though there was no finding of somatoform.
Wilson never cites Latham and does not suggest that the ALJ failed to follow
§ 404.1529. Indeed, the ALJ expressly states that she did. See Rec.  at 19. And this is not a
case where the ALJ failed to acknowledge the possible effects of a mental disorder that induces
otherwise unexplained pain. As noted, the ALJ found that Wilson has “pain disorder,” id. at 16,
credited her subjective complaints of pain to some extent, id. at 20, but found that the “intensity,
persistence, and limiting effects of these symptoms are not entirely credible,” id. (emphasis
The ALJ reached that conclusion based on more than just the lack of physical findings
that might account for the pain. First, the ALJ recognized her duty to consider the “physical or
mental impairment(s) that could reasonably be expected to produce the claimant’s pain” before
making a credibility determination. Id. at 19. She then noted that the credibility determination
must be “based on a consideration of the entire case record.” Id. The ALJ then cataloged the
claimant’s history, noting, inter alia, instances where she “did not demonstrate any pain
behaviors.” Id. at 22. The ALJ also noted “numerous inconsistencies undermining credibility.”
Id. at 23. Ultimately, the ALJ concluded Wilson’s complaints of disability were “less than fully
credible,” noting “the degree of symptoms and limitations alleged by the claimant due to pain is
not consistent with the objective medical evidence regarding these impairments, or her functional
ability, including her statements about her daily activities.” Id. at 24.3
Other district courts within the Fifth Circuit have faced similar cases, where the ALJ
considered the effects of somatoform or “pain disorders,” but based on other substantial evidence
concluded that the claimant’s pain complaints were not entirely credible. Those courts have
The Report and Recommendation goes into greater detail regarding the record supporting the
affirmed the commissioner. See, e.g., Corpany v. Colvin, No. 4:12-CV-878-A, 2014 WL
1255316, at *5–6 (N.D. Tex. Mar. 26, 2014) (finding that ALJ did not ignore somatoform
disorder because credibility finding was “[b]ased on all the evidence” including claimant’s
“reports of her daily activities”); Downing v. Astrue, No. 2:11-CV-0170, 2012 WL 4354928, at
*12–14 (N.D. Tex. Sept. 7, 2012), report and recommendation adopted, No. 2:11-CV-0170,
2012 WL 4354915 (N.D. Tex. Sept. 24, 2012) (recommending affirmance and noting that ALJ
acknowledged somatoform but found complaints inconsistent with evidence found in medical
records regarding complaints of pain along with other evidence); Cromwell v. Astrue, No. 4:10CV-061-Y, 2011 WL 666282, at *4–6 (N.D. Tex. Jan. 21, 2011), report and recommendation
adopted, No. 4:10-CV-061-Y, 2011 WL 666279 (N.D. Tex. Feb. 14, 2011) (recommending
affirmance and noting that ALJ considered inconsistencies between pain complaints and
claimant’s “daily activities”). For these reasons, and those addressed in the Report and
Recommendation, the Court finds that this objection should be rejected.
The only other point that merits brief attention relates to the alternative-work finding.
One of the jobs the ALJ identified was storage rental clerk. Rec.  at 26. In her objections,
Wilson says the ALJ reached a conflicting result because that job would require reasoning level
three, whereas the ALJ restricted Wilson to “simple routine tasks.” Pl.’s Obj.  at 7 (citing
Rec.  at 18). This Court has previously addressed this issue, holding that a residual
functioning capacity “limited to simple work or tasks is not necessarily inconsistent with levelthree reasoning.” Ruffin v. Colvin, No. 3:16CV18-DPJ-FKB, 2017 WL 536549, at *4 (S.D.
Miss. Feb. 8, 2017). For this, and the other reasons more thoroughly addressed in the Report and
Recommendation, this objection is likewise rejected.
The Court has considered all arguments raised by Wilson in her objection; those not
addressed would not have changed the outcome. The Court finds that the Report and
Recommendation  should be adopted as the opinion of the Court; Wilson’s motion for
summary judgment  is denied; and the Commissioner’s motion to affirm  is granted. The
decision of the Commissioner is affirmed, and this action is dismissed with prejudice.
A separate judgment will be entered in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED this the 25th day of September, 2017.
s/ Daniel P. Jordan III
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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