Easley v. Commissioner of Social Security
ORDER ADOPTING 17 Report and Recommendation. The Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's final decision and DISMISSES this case with prejudice. Signed by District Judge Jeremy D. Kernodle on 11/13/2023. (wea, 6)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
KRYSTAL KAY EASLEY,
Case No. 6:22-cv-285-JDK-KNM
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Plaintiff Krystal Kay Easley appeals a final decision of the Social Security
Administration Commissioner. The case was referred to United States Magistrate
Judge K. Nicole Mitchell pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636.
On October 10, 2023, Judge Mitchell issued a Report and Recommendation
recommending that the Court affirm the Commissioner’s final decision and dismiss
this Social Security appeal with prejudice. Docket No. 17. Plaintiff filed objections.
Docket No. 18.
Where a party timely objects to the Report and Recommendation, the Court
reviews the objected-to findings and conclusions of the Magistrate Judge de novo. 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). In conducting a de novo review, the Court examines the entire
record and makes an independent assessment under the law. Douglass v. United
Servs. Auto. Ass’n, 79 F.3d 1415, 1430 (5th Cir. 1996) (en banc), superseded on other
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grounds by statute, 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) (extending the time to file objections from
ten to fourteen days).
In her objections, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ improperly failed to include
accommodations for irritable bowel syndrome, Hashimoto’s disease, and migraines in
the residual functional capacity finding despite identifying these conditions as severe
impairments. Plaintiff submits that the ALJ’s RFC finding is deficient.
The ALJ identified Plaintiff’s severe impairments to include irritable bowel
syndrome, fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine, Hashimoto’s
disease, migraines, and pituitary adenoma.
Docket No. 13-2 at *25.
determined that, with these severe impairments, Plaintiff retained the limited
physical residual functional capacity to lift and/or carry 10 pounds occasionally and
less then 10 pounds frequently, stand and/or walk for 2 hours in an 8-hour workday
and sit for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday, and push and/or pull within he weight limits
for lifting and carrying, with occasional climbing of ramps and stairs, no climbing of
ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, occasional balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, and
crawling and no concentrated exposure to hazards including unprotected heights and
dangerous machinery. Id. at *26.
The analysis for identifying severe impairments is different than the residual
functional capacity analysis. Gutierrez v. Barnhart, 2005 WL 1994289, at *9 (5th Cir.
2005); Boyd v. Apfel, 239 F.3d 698, 706 (5th Cir. 2001).
To be severe, an
impairment need only be more than a slight abnormality with more than a minimal
effect on the claimant. Stone v. Heckler, 752 F.2d 1099, 1101 (5th Cir. 1985). The
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residual functional capacity assessment concerns the claimant’s specific capacity for
work. Taylor v. Astrue, 706 F.3d 600, 602–603 (5th Cir. 2012).
The record reveals that the ALJ properly considered the medical record,
Plaintiff’s subjective statements concerning her symptoms, and the medical opinions
and prior administrative findings. The ALJ pointed to specific evidence in the record
showing no abdominal tenderness or ascites, Plaintiff’s refusal of medication for
irritable bowel syndrome, Plaintiff’s reports of migraine relief with medication,
Plaintiff’s refusal of occipital nerve blocks, and imaging showing minimal cervical
The ALJ further noted that Plaintiff received only routine and
conservative treatment for each of her severe impairments, without a need for
surgical intervention or other invasive treatment. The ALJ concluded that the
objective examination findings, including full range of motion in all extremities,
normal muscle strength, normal reflexes and a lack of motor or sensory deficits, as
well as Plaintiff’s demonstrated ability to care for herself and her home, do not
support the severity of limitations asserted by Plaintiff. Here, the ALJ properly
considered Plaintiff’s severe impairments in the residual functional capacity
assessment and the ALJ’s residual functional capacity finding is supported by
Having conducted a de novo review of the record in this case and the
Magistrate Judge’s Report, the Court has determined that the Report of the
Magistrate Judge is correct, and Plaintiff’s objections are without merit. Accordingly,
the Court hereby ADOPTS the Report of the Magistrate Judge (Docket No. 17) as
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the opinion of the Court. The Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner’s final decision
and DISMISSES this case with prejudice.
So ORDERED and SIGNED this 13th day of November, 2023.
JEREMY D. KERNODLE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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