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Madden v. Saul

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

July 12, 2019

GARY MADDEN, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          BARBARA B. CRABB DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Gary Madden is seeking review of a final decision by defendant Commissioner of Social Security denying plaintiff's claim for disability insurance benefits under the Social Security Act. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Dkt. #8. (I have amended the caption to reflect the fact that the new Commissioner of Social Security is Andrew M. Saul.) Plaintiff contends that the administrative law judge who decided the case erred in failing to assess adequate limitations for him with respect to handling, fingering and balancing; inadequately assessing the psychological evaluation of an examining physician; and failing to explain the inclusion of a 10 percent off-task limitation in the residual functional capacity assessment. For the reasons explained below, I find that the administrative law judge did not err in reaching his decision. Accordingly, plaintiff's claim will be denied.

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

         FACTS

         A. Social Security Applications and Administrative Proceedings

         Plaintiff Gary Madden filed applications for disability insurance benefits on May 1, 2014, contending that he had been disabled since April 11, 2014 because of a variety of conditions, including chronic pain, neuropathy, restless leg syndrome and concentration and comprehension problems. AR 50, 53-56. He was born on October 10, 1976, making him 37 years old when he applied for benefits. AR 62. Plaintiff completed the 12th grade and has prior work experience as a window assembler, woodworking machine off-bearer, nailing machine operator and grinding machine operator. AR 59, 62.

         On May 2, 2017, Administrative Law Judge Thomas Springer held a hearing at which Plaintiff, plaintiff's family medicine physician and a vocational expert testified. AR 50. Plaintiff was represented by counsel at the hearing. In a written decision issued on July 3, 2017, the administrative law judge concluded that plaintiff was severely impaired by complex regional pain syndrome, peripheral neuropathy and residuals from a hiatal hernia repair. AR 52. Although he noted that a psychological evaluation performed by Dr. Nanette Matthews suggested that plaintiff had a somatoform disorder, he found the physician's findings to be indefinite and determined that the following evidence in the record showed that plaintiff did not have a severe psychological impairment:

• Neurologist Dr. Loren Rolak noted in August 2013 that plaintiff's orientation, memory, recall, concentration and attention span were normal. AR 736.
• In November 2015, Dr. Raymond Hartke noted that plaintiff did not exhibit any evidence of depression, anxiety or agitation; was orientated to time, place and person; and had normal insight and judgment. AR 710.
• Although plaintiff reported undergoing some counseling, there were no records corroborating this report.

AR 61.

         The administrative law judge found that plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work with the following limitations: using an assistive device in one hand; occasional repetitive operation of foot controls; no climbing ladders, scaffolding, ramps or stairs; no crawling; occasional balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching and exposure to vibration and workplace hazards; being off-task up to 10 percent of each workday; and one unscheduled absence every other month. AR 55. (In reaching his decision, the administrative law judge made several specific findings with respect to the medical evidence that I will discuss in more detail below.)

         The administrative law judge determined that plaintiff had no past relevant work. AR 62. Relying on the testimony of a vocational expert who testified in response to a hypothetical question based on the residual functional capacity assessment, the administrative law judge found that jobs existed in significant No. in the national ...


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