United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Central Division
NANETTE K. LAUGHREY, District Judge.
The Commissioner of Social Security's decision regarding Plaintiff Kathryn Lewis' appeal of the Commissioner's final decision denying her application for disability insurance benefits is affirmed.
A. Lewis' Medical History
Lewis alleges disabilities beginning on May 19, 2009. Lewis has a long history of chiropractic treatment for back pain. She also suffers from arthritis and periodic psychological impairments. Lewis received regular chiropractic treatment for her back pain from Lance Ford, D.C. from 2004 until 2007. In August 2006, Dr. Paul Toma evaluated Lewis in conjunction with her request for Social Security benefits. Dr. Toma diagnosed a history of arthritis and noted that she had tenderness in her lumbar spine; he then concluded that Lewis would qualify for medium work. That same month, Robert Whitten, Ph.D., performed a consultative exam of Lewis' psychological condition. Dr. Whitten noted that Lewis had serious impairment in oral memory and concentration and diagnosed her with possible ADHD, possible dementia, possible pain disorder, adjustment disorder, and personality disorder. He concluded that she was unable to store information in her short term memory to perform simple jobs.
From 2007-2009, Lewis received treatment at Access Family Care for back, neck, and hip pain, as well as arm and hand numbness. She was diagnosed with chronic neck and back pain. Imaging of her spine taken in March 2008 showed cervical hyperlordosis.
In February 2009, David Ball, D.O., performed a consultative examination of Lewis. He found that she had restricted motion of her cervical exam and a loss of normal cervical lordosis; an MRI showed that Lewis had a number of issues with her spine. Dr. Ball concluded that Lewis may be capable of secretarial work.
In April and June 2009, Lewis saw a vocational expert, Linda Wilks, to discuss her training and employment capabilities. Tr. at 578, 594. Ms. Wilks concluded Lewis' health precluded her from working full time, but that she would be an appropriate candidate for a job placement service and part-time employment. Tr. at 595.
Since May 2009, Lewis has continued to receive chiropractic treatment for low back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, headaches. Tr. at 619. She has also been treated for fibromyalgia with prescription drugs. Tr. at 20. Finally, Lewis has adopted a regimen of herbal remedies and over the counter medications for pain management. Tr. at 44-45.
B. Procedural History
Since 2006, Lewis has made two requests for disability insurance benefits.
Lewis first requested benefits for disabilities beginning on March 1, 2006 ("the first action"). In the first action, the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") found Lewis had severe impairments including mild degenerative disc disease of the lumbar and thoracic spines. Tr. at 108. In evaluating Lewis' claim, the ALJ reviewed the opinions of Lewis' doctors including Drs. Whitten, Toma, and Ball. The ALJ stated that he relied on the opinions provided by Drs. Toma and Ball, and accorded little weight to Dr. Whitten's conclusions. Tr. at 91-99. On May 18, 2009, the ALJ denied Lewis' request for benefits in the first action. Id. Lewis did not appeal the ALJ's denial.
In August 2009, Lewis initiated a new request for disability benefits for disabilities beginning on May 19, 2009 ("the current action"). In the current action, Lewis alleges disabilities arising out of the following severe impairments: degenerative joint disease and degenerative disc disease of the thoracic and lumbar spine, fibromyalgia, and moderate bilateral high frequency sensorineural ...