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Hutchinson v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

August 27, 2014

CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.


DAVID D. NOCE, Magistrate Judge.

This action is before the court for judicial review of the final decision of the defendant Commissioner of Social Security denying the application of plaintiff Ronda Kay Hutchinson for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401, et seq. The action was referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for review and a recommended disposition under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). For the reasons set forth below, the decision of the Administrative Law Judge should be affirmed.


Plaintiff Ronda Kay Hutchinson, born March 20, 1969, applied for Title II benefits on June 16, 2011. (Tr. 117-23.) She alleged an onset date of disability of March 1, 2009, due to fibromyalgia and nerve damage to the neck, back, and hand. (Tr. 149.) Plaintiff's application was denied initially on August 12, 2011, and she requested a hearing before an ALJ. (Tr. 67-76.)

On June 20, 2012, following a hearing, the ALJ found plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 12-21.) On March 18, 2013, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review. (Tr. 1-3.) Thus, the decision of the ALJ stands as the final decision of the Commissioner.


On March 21, 2009, plaintiff arrived at the emergency room, complaining of an allergic reaction caused by erythromycin and penicillin that resulted in hives and throat constriction. David J. Pernikoff, M.D., diagnosed pruritic disorder, adverse reactions to penicillin and erythromycin, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and tobacco abuse.[1] She was discharged on March 24, 2009. (Tr. 207-16.)

On October 9, 2009, plaintiff arrived at the emergency room, complaining of chest pain that began two days earlier. Chest X-rays and CT scans revealed no abnormalities. The impression of John P. Fortney, M.D., was pleurisy and a chest wall muscle strain. (Tr. 305-34.)

On April 28, 2010, plaintiff arrived at the emergency room, complaining of chest pain and left arm pain. Chest X-rays revealed no abnormalities, and a cardiac catheter lab revealed normal coronary arteries. Mehreen Khann, M.D., diagnosed atypical chest pain, hypercholesterolemia, nicotine addiction, obesity, and anxiety. He prescribed Lexapro and ibuprofen, referred her to behavioral health, and recommended that she discontinue smoking.[2] (Tr. 217-39.)

On August 23, 2010, plaintiff complained of back and hand pain and hives that began one year earlier. Thoracic spine X-rays revealed thoracolumbar levoscoliosis, and X-rays of both hands revealed no abnormalities. Rama Bandlamudi, M.D., assessed osteoarthritis due to trauma. (Tr. 291-300.)

On August 27, 2010, plaintiff complained of allergic reactions to insect stings and hives that began in March 2009 after she received an injection of erythromycin. James Temprano, M.D., diagnosed chronic idiopathic urticaria and insect sting anaphylaxis and prescribed ranitidine, Zyflo, Allegra, hydroxyzine, and Zyrtec.[3] (Tr. 256-58, 278-86.)

On December 10, 2010, plaintiff arrived at Mercy Clinic to establish care. Jeffrey C. Faron, M.D., diagnosed hyperlipidemia, generalized anxiety disorder, menopausal symptoms, osteopenia, tobacco use, gastroesophageal reflux disease, urticaria, and chronic back pain. He prescribed Zyflo, Flexeril, Vicodin, Lipitor, Valium, and Premarin.[4] (Tr. 617-29.)

On October 6, 2010, plaintiff reported that she awoke with hives on her neck, low back, and knees during the past three days. She reported that prednisone controlled the hives but that she had tapered prednisone use.[5] She also complained of fatigue caused by pain medication. Dr. Temprano diagnosed chronic urticaria and osteoporosis and discontinued Zyflo. (Tr. 276-77.)

On October 27, 2010, plaintiff arrived at the emergency room, complaining of foot pain due to stubbing her toes. X-rays of the right foot revealed moderately sized calcaneal spurs, no acute fractures, and soft tissue damage. Yolanda A. Acklin, ANP, diagnosed foot sprain and prescribed Naprosyn.[6] (Tr. 240-54.)

On November 5, 2010, plaintiff complained of a cough and congestion. She received a diagnosis of respiratory tract infection and a prescription for Keflex.[7] Plaintiff reported improvement with gastroesophageal reflux disease. Dr. Faron prescribed oxycodone, discontinued Lipitor and hydrocodone, and encouraged plaintiff to discontinue smoking cigarettes.[8] (Tr. 350-55, 630-41.)

On November 12, 2010, plaintiff complained of continued hive outbreaks and mouth ulcers. She reported that she continued to search for employment. Dr. Temprano diagnosed chronic idiopathic urticaria, chronic infections, a urinary tract infection, osteopenia, and depression. He prescribed sulfasalazine and Bactrim.[9] (Tr. 272-73.)

On November 22, 2010, plaintiff complained of daily breakouts of hives, and low back pain. She further complained of one hour of joint stiffness and pain each morning and weakness in the limbs. She reported previous employment in waste management. Dr. Bandlamudi and Judy Ko, M.D., opined that the back pain resulted from osteoarthritis caused by trauma. She found no rheumatologic cause for the symptoms. (Tr. 264-67, 270-71.)

On December 8, 2010 plaintiff complained of congestion. Dr. Faron diagnosed respiratory tract infection and prescribed Keflex and Asmanex.[10] (Tr. 356-60, 642-50.)

On December 22, 2010, plaintiff complained of lingering chest congestion and coughing. She requested a refill of Percocet and reported that she began Actonel for osteopenia. She further reported that discontinuing Lipitor did not affect the back pain. Dr. Faron prescribed Lipitor and encouraged plaintiff to stop smoking. (Tr. 361-76, 651-62.)

On January 14, 2011, plaintiff reported daily urticaria, fatigue caused by antiinflammatory medication, back pain, and heartburn. Dr. Temprano diagnosed chronic idiopathic urticarial, recurrent infections, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, and venom allergy and recommended a skin biopsy. (Tr. 268-69.)

On January 24, 2011, plaintiff reported improved urticarial and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and stable generalized anxiety disorder, back pain, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Dr. Faron diagnosed hyperlipidemia, urticaria, generalized anxiety disorder, chronic back pain, tobacco use, osteopenia, gastroesophageal reflux disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and vitamin D deficiency and prescribed Advair.[11] (Tr. 377-87, 663-76.)

On February 21, 2011, plaintiff complained of increased back pain and requested an increased dosage of oxycodone. She further complained of irritability, depressed mood, and impaired concentration. Dr. Faron diagnosed plaintiff with major depressive disorder and prescribed Cymbalta.[12] (Tr. 388-987, 677-689.)

On March 21, 2011, plaintiff complained of mild muscle spasms in the neck and sore throat. Chest X-rays revealed new atelectasis or infiltrate and possible bilateral pulmonary nodules, and a chest MRI scan revealed no acute abnormalities. Dr. Faron diagnosed neck pain and prescribed analgesics and clindamycin.[13] He referred her to a pain clinic for the back pain. (Tr. 398-409, 690-702.)

On April 11, 2011, plaintiff arrived at the emergency room, complaining of neck pain and swelling that began two weeks earlier and caused the head to tilt. She reported that a neck injection did not improve the pain. She also noted tingling in her fingers, drowsiness, confusion, and somnolence. An MRI scan of the brain was unremarkable, and an MRI scan on the neck revealed soft tissue swelling and edema of the paraspinal muscles. An electromyogram revealed significant left ulnar neuropathy and an entrapment site across the elbow. Kamalini Nadarajah, M.D., diagnosed fibromyalgia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, left ulnar neuropathy caused by an elbow entrapment, and edema and referred her to orthopedics. She was discharged on April 15, 2011. (Tr. 414-42, 538-40.)

On April 25, 2011, plaintiff complained of the inability to hold her head up, neck pain, and left arm numbness that radiated to the hand. She requested pain medication. Daniel J. Martin, Jr., M.D., diagnosed neck pain and neuropathy. (Tr. 443-56, 703-15.)

On May 7, 2011, plaintiff arrived at the emergency room, reported that her spouse disposed of her pain medication, and requested a refill. (Tr. 457-67.)

On May 9, 2011, plaintiff arrived at the emergency room, complaining of left arm pain and numbness and requesting a pain medication refill. She reported attending physical therapy for the arm and that she could not open or close the hand due to pain. An MRI scan of the cervical spine revealed mild spondylosis. Plaintiff complained of pain during direct examination of the left arm but did not react when medical personnel interacted otherwise with the left arm. She used one hundred pain pills in ten days. (Tr. 468-80.)

On the same date, plaintiff complained of neck and back spasms and pain. P. Yoon, M.D., diagnosed neck pain and fibromyalgia. (Tr. 525-28.)

On the same date, plaintiff reported that she met with a pain clinic physician earlier that day who did not satisfy her. She also inquired about fibromyalgia. Dr. Faron referred her to another rheumatologist and encouraged her to stop smoking cigarettes. (Tr. 716-28.)

On May 10, 2011, plaintiff complained of neck pain that began a few months earlier. She reported intermittent neck pain since a motor vehicle accident in 1995. She reported that treatment had improved the low back pain. Nabil Ahmad, M.D., observed left arm and grip weakness, left arm numbness, poor cervical posture, and the neck tilting to the left. His impression was fibromyalgia, neck pain, and left ulnar neuropathy. The impression of Nabil Ahmad, M.D., was myofascial, cervical, and scapular pain, fibromyalgia, and polyneuropathy. He recommended conservative treatment, including physical therapy, a home exercise program, diclofenac, and baclofen.[14] (Tr. 529-32.)

On June 5, 2011, plaintiff reported receiving care at the pain clinic but described the medications as ineffective. She requested a refill of pain medication and reported that Cymbalta improved the depression ...

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