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Folnsbee v. Berryhill

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

April 21, 2017

NANCY BERRYHILL,[1] Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.



         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff Cindy Raylene Folnsbee's Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record ("Motion") (Doc. No. 19), filed with a Memorandum in Support (Doc. No. 19-1). Defendant Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") filed a Response in Opposition to Plaintiffs Motion (Doc. No. 20.), to which Plaintiff replied (Doc. No. 25.) On January 12, 2017, this case was referred to Magistrate Judge Frensley. (Doc. No. 27.) The Court hereby withdraws that referral. In addition, upon consideration of the parties' filings and the transcript of the administrative record (Doc. No. 15), [2] and for the reasons stated herein, Plaintiffs Motion (Doc. No. 19) will be hereby DENIED.

         I. Introduction

         Folnsbee filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under Title II of the Social Security Act on February 22, 2010, alleging a disability onset of December 15, 2005, which was later amended to December 30, 2009. (Tr. 36.) Folnsbee's claim was denied at the initial and reconsideration stages of state agency review. Folnsbee subsequently requested de novo review of his case by an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). The ALJ heard the case on August 20, 2012, when Folnsbee appeared with counsel and gave testimony. (Tr. 48-70.) Testimony was also received from an impartial vocational expert. At the conclusion of the hearing, the matter was taken under advisement until August 24, 2012, when the ALJ issued a written decision finding Folnsbee not disabled. (Tr. 36-43.) That decision contains the following enumerated findings:

1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2011.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged onset date of December 30, 2009 through her date last insured of December 31, 2010 (20 C.F.R. 404.1571 et seq.).
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the following severe impairments: is chemic heart disease and obesity (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(c)).
4. Through the date last insured, the claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, ... through the date last insured, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(b) except the claimant could lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; stand and/or walk 6 hours out of 8 hours; sit 6 hours out of 8 hours; frequently climb ramp/stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; occasionally climb ladder/ropes/scaffolds; and avoid concentrated exposure to temperature extremes, vibration, and respiratory irritants.
6. Through the date last insured, the claimant was capable of performing past relevant work as a bowling alley manager. This work did not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 C.F.R. 404.1565).
7. The claimant was not under a "disability" as defined in the Social Security Act at any time from December 30, 2009, the alleged onset date, through December 31, 2010, the date last insured (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(f)).

(Tr. 38-39, 42.)

         On October 31, 2013, the Appeals Council denied Folnsbee's request for review of the ALJ's decision (Tr. 1), thereby rendering that decision the final decision of the SSA. This civil action was thereafter timely filed, and the Court has jurisdiction. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         II. Review of the Record

         The following summary of the medical record is taken from the ALJ's decision:

The claimant has a history of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and coronary artery disease. She was admitted to the hospital on December 30, 2009, with unstable angina. Nuclear perfusion study showed fixed inferior wall defect and no ischemia with left ventricular ejection fraction of 36 percent. Echocardiogram showed normal chamber sizes and inferior infarct. Cardiac catheterization revealed 30 to 40 percent mid-lower anterior descending. She underwent percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) with two over-lapping bare-metal stents placed in the right coronary artery. Left ventricular ejection fraction improved to 55 percent. She was discharged home on January 1, 2010 with prescriptions for Simvastatin, aspirin, Clopidogrel, Lisinopril, Metoprolol, and Nitroglycerin. Smoking cessation was strongly encouraged. Exhibit 2F.
On February 2, 2020, she reported feeling better with no chest pain, dyspnea, orthopnea, paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea (PND), palpitations, edema, lightheadedness, or syncope. She denied generalized fatigue and malaise. She stated she continued to smoke one pack of cigarettes per day. Examination showed no obvious joint deformities and no apparent focal motor or sensory deficits. Lisinopril dosage was increased. Exhibits 2F and 9F.
On August 3, 2010, the claimant complained of daily heart palpitations over the last week. She stated these tended to be stress-related and lasted from one minute to less than one hour. A Holter monitor study was ordered. Simvastatin and Lisinopril dosage was increased. Smoking cessation was again encouraged. On October 5, 2010, the claimant reported her palpitations had improved and her Holter monitor showed rare VPCs and APCs. She had dyspnea when walking up stairs but no chest pain, orthopnea, paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea (PND), lower extremity edema, lightheadedness, or syncope. She stated she had been out of Lisinopril for about two weeks. Her blood pressure was uncontrolled and Lisinopril was restarted. She was instructed to keep a blood pressure log and quit smoking. Her blood pressure was noted to be under better control on December 7, 2010. She stated she had been feeling relatively well and her blood pressure log showed gradual improvement. She stated she cut back on smoking; however, smoking cessation was strongly encouraged. She reported some dyspnea when she really exerted herself but reported no chest pain. Medications were renewed. Exhibit 9F.
Albert Gomez, M.D., performed a consultative physical examination for the Social Security Administration on July 28, 2010. The claimant complained of chronic chest pain following a myocardial infarction in January 2010. Her chest pain was substernal, pressure type, without radiation, occurring about once a day and lasting for about 15 minutes. Her symptoms were increased with exertion and were decreased with rest. She denied nausea or vomiting associated with her chest pain. She reported smoking one pack of cigarettes per day with a 3 5-year history of smoking. She had a normal gait and was able to get on and off the examination table without difficulty. Blood pressure was 210/120. She was 63 inches tall and 187 pounds. Heart rate was regularly without any murmurs or rubs. There was moderate tenderness to palpation of the cervical spine with normal flexion, extension to 50 degrees, right and left lateral flexion to 35 degrees, and right and left rotation to 70 degrees. Extremities showed no cyanosis of clonus. There was 1 pedal edema bilaterally. The pedal pulses were normal. There was a full range of motion in her shoulders, elbows, and wrists. Fine finger movements, fist making, and pinch grip were normal. Handgrip was good bilaterally. Her hips had full range of motion except for flexion to 110 degrees. Her left hip had moderate tenderness to palpation. There was full range o motion in her knees and ankles with moderate tenderness to palpation in her left knee. Motor strength was 4/5 in her upper and lower extremities. Deep tendon reflexes ...

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