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Moore v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

October 30, 2017

WILLIAM E. MOORE, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          BARBARA B. CRABB District Judge

         Plaintiff William E. Moore is seeking review of a final decision denying his claim for supplemental security income under the Social Security Act. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Plaintiff contends that he has been disabled since April 1, 2010 because of numerous impairments, including diabetes, obesity, degenerative disc disease, sleep apnea and right shoulder impingement. The administrative law judge concluded that even though plaintiff has several severe and non-severe impairments, he was not disabled because he could perform sedentary work with some additional limitations, and such work exists in significant numbers in the national economy. As explained below, I am remanding this case because the administrative law judge did not explain adequately his reason for concluding that plaintiff's right hand impairment would not be a significant limitation on his ability to work.

         The following facts are drawn from the administrative record (AR).

         FACTS

         A. Social Security Application

          Plaintiff William E. Moore filed for supplemental security income on April 29, 2013, alleging that he was disabled because of diabetes, hepatitis, obesity, degenerative disc disease, restless leg syndrome, neck pain, peripheral neuropathy, hypertension, hypertrigglyceridemia and severe right buttock pain. AR 15. He was 45 years old at the time of his application. AR 139. His application was denied initially and on reconsideration, and he requested a hearing before an administrative law judge. A video hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge A. Benton, on June 2, 2015, AR 32-55, at which plaintiff was represented by counsel. On September 21, 2015, the administrative law judge concluded that plaintiff was not disabled. AR 15-27. In December 2016, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review, AR 1, making the hearing decision the final decision of the Commissioner.

         B. Overview of Medical Issues and Treatment

         1. Diabetes

         Plaintiff's medical record contains treatment notes for diabetes, starting in March 2010. AR 247-49. Between March 2010 and February 2015, his diabetes was sometimes well-controlled and sometimes not, and sometimes caused painful neuropathy. AR 361, 666-68, 799-80, 863-66, 1060-65.

         2. Left arm and hand weakness

         In May, June and August 2010, plaintiff was seen for weakness and tingling in his left arm and hand. He reported difficulty holding objects with his left hand. AR 272, 391. He was given a diagnosis of ulnar nerve neuropathy of his upper left extremity and probable cubital tunnel syndrome. AR 272, 391-93. In June 2010, he was prescribed anti-inflammatory medicine and an elbow pad to treat his left extremity. AR. 407.

         3. Neck and back pain

         In July and August 2010, plaintiff was seen for neck and back problems. He received an xray and magnetic imaging study showing some minor issues in his cervical spine, AR 274-76, and was directed to participate in physical therapy and a home exercise program. AR 277-79. In November and December 2010, plaintiff continued to complain of back pain, but a spine magnetic imaging study in November 2010 showed no abnormalities. AR 475. He was fitted for a back brace and referred to physical therapy. AR 470, 474, 380. In May 2013, plaintiff reported back pain again, and received a spine x-ray showing mild progression of degenerative changes in his lower thoracic spine. AR 605. A magnetic imaging study in June 2013 showed other mild degenerative changes. AR 652, 1060-65. Plaintiff continued to seek treatment and physical therapy for back pain throughout the remainder of 2013 and 2014. AR 717-19. In January 2014, his physical therapists reported that aquatic therapy was helping. AR 752-53. Plaintiff was discharged from physical therapy in February 2014, after reaching his therapy goals. AR 818-19. The notes state that plaintiff was feeling “much better, ” had “decreased back and lower extremity pain, ” would continue with a home exercise program and walk outside when the weather was favorable. AR 965.

         4. Right shoulder, arm ...


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