Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Prosch v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

July 9, 2018

ROBERT PROSCH, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM M. CONLEY DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Claimant Robert Prosch seeks judicial review of a final decision of defendant Nancy A. Berryhill, the Acting Commissioner of Social Security, under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), which denied his application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income. On June 18, 2018, the court held oral argument regarding claimant's contention that Administrative Law Judge Springer (the “ALJ”) treated the opinion of Dr. Andrew Braun, claimant's treating physician, improperly. For the reasons discussed below, the court will affirm the Commissioner's decision.

         BACKGROUND

         Prosch stopped working on March 5, 2009, but began reducing his hours in 2007. (AR 138.) He initially sought disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income on October 8, 2009, alleging a disability onset date of January 1, 2007. (AR 137, 144.) While those applications were pending, he filed a new application for disability and disability insurance benefits on March 22, 2013. (See AR 654.) All applications were denied. (See id.) Claimant previously appealed the denial of his first application and that case was remanded by this court on March 30, 2015. (Dkt. #10 at 2.) The Appeals Council then remanded the case to ALJ Springer, directing him to: (1) consolidate the remanded case with claimant's subsequent claim; (2) “give further consideration to the treating source opinion of Dr. Andrew Braun”; (3) “[o]btain updated and additional evidence concerning the claimant's impairments in order to complete the administrative record”; (4) further consider “the claimant's maximum residual functional capacity and provide appropriate rationale with specific references to evidence of record”; and (5) if appropriate, obtain clarifying evidence from a VE about “the effect of the assessed limitations on the claimant's occupational base.” (AR 739.)

         A. Medical Record and Reports

         Claimant is a diabetic with chronic knee, foot and back pain. (See AR 425, 434, 473, 476.) During the relevant period, his diabetes was mostly uncontrolled, and he also suffered from diabetic nephropathy and peripheral neuropathy. (See AR 425, 429, 439, 520, 531.) He also had retina problems in his right eye. (AR 322.) Most relevant to this appeal are the opinions of his treating physicians, Dr. Andrew Braun and Dr. Alexander Spitzer.

         Dr. Braun was claimant's primary care physician. On November 19, 2010, he completed a Diabetes Mellitus RFC Questionnaire. (AR 505-509.) Braun explained that their treatment relationship had been ongoing for 3-4 years. At the time Braun completed the questionnaire, claimant had diabetes, hypertension, increased cholesterol, retinal detachment, neuropathy, and nephropathy, as well as a “fair, guarded” prognosis. (AR 505.) Braun listed claimant's symptoms as: difficulty walking; episodic vision blurriness; excessive thirst; swelling; sensitivity to light, heat or cold; retinopathy; kidney problems; insulin shock/coma; extremity pain and numbness; loss of manual dexterity; frequency of urination; dizziness/loss of balance; and hyper/hypoglycemic attacks. (Id.) Dr. Braun opined that claimant's symptoms would frequently be “severe enough to interfere with attention and concentration.”[1] (AR 506.) He further opined that claimant could tolerate low stress jobs, walk less than a single city block without rest or pain, and sit 20 minutes or stand 15 minutes at a time (standing/walking for less than two hours and sitting for about four hours in an eight-hour workday). (Id.)

         Additionally, Braun thought claimant would need to walk around about every 20 minutes for approximately five minutes. (AR 507.) As a result, Braun opined that the claimant required a job permitting changing positions from standing/walking to sitting at will, and he would be expected to take unscheduled breaks about every 2 hours for about five minutes at a time. (Id.) Braun also opined that claimant could: rarely lift 10 pounds, occasionally lift less than that; never lift 20 or 50 pounds; rarely twist, stoop or climb stairs; and never crouch/squat or climb ladders. (AR 507-08.) Braun next proposed a number of environmental limitations for claimant, and estimated that claimant would be absent approximately three days a month. (AR 508.) Finally, Braun explained that the described symptoms and limitations were applicable for the prior year. (AR 509.)

         In 2015, claimant began seeing Dr. Alexander Spitzer, a neurologist. On April 2, 2015, claimant told Spitzer about an incident in March where he unexpectedly “felt that he was passing out and fell to the floor and hurt his back . . . . He was then having difficulty regaining some consciousness and was struggling with carrying a case of CDs and was a bit confused.” (AR 1217.) Additionally, Spitzer noted claimant's foot numbness had reportedly worsened over the past six years. (Id.) Claimant told Spitzer that he was having “increasing ambulatory difficulty, ” as “he can barely get through 9 holes of golf, he has a lot of trouble walking and it requires a lot of effort. He feels very worn out and his feet hurt and he has difficulty continuing with ambulation.” (Id.) Spitzer opined that “[i]n patients like [the claimant, ] combined features of neuropathy and stenosis can be very difficult to evaluate on clinical exam alone” such that he felt “obligated to get some imaging of his lumbar and cervical spine.” (AR 1220.)

         Based on the imaging, Spitzer noted on April 23, 2015, that:

[Spitzer] analyzed [the electrodiagnostic study] in terms of the physiological significance versus the symptoms and I think this is not sufficient to be causing substantial disability such as ambulatory difficulty at this time. It is, of course, always hard to judge the relationship between physiology and symptoms, but generally patients with such extreme mild findings do not experience motor disability. Therefore, I would estimate[] that the neuropathy is not actually causing his symptoms.
* * *
I do not know whether this type of condition would eventually at some time in the future possibly progress to a more severe situation . . . . I simply recommended, therefore, that we have periodic clinical followup and assessment.
* * *
The other problem identified today is the presence of some stenosis. . . . It also would not match any of his ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.