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Harris v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

November 6, 2014

TINA L. HARRIS, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.


NANETTE K. LAUGHREY, District Judge.

Before the Court is Plaintiff Tina Harris' appeal of the Commissioner of Social Security's final decision denying her applications for Title II disability insurance benefits and Title XVI supplemental security income benefits. For the reasons set forth below, the Commissioner's decision is affirmed.

I. Background

Plaintiff was born in June 1961, has a high school education, and has prior work experience as a retail clerk and cashier. Plaintiff alleges she became disabled on February 13, 2009, due to the combined effects of a mental condition, shoulder, knee, ankle, hand and leg pain, arthritis, depression, bone pain in the bottom of her feet while standing, congenital blindness in one eye, and increased vision problems. [Tr. 165].

A. Medical History

1. Physical

In 2004, Plaintiff had left shoulder surgery. [Tr. 226]. In November 2009, Dr. Ann Lee, M.D., conducted a consultative physical examination. Plaintiff reported pain in her back and arms, numbness and pain in her hands, bruising in her hips, problems with her knee, and trouble gripping. She reported losing a job due to poor attendance related to pain. Id. Dr. Lee observed that Plaintiff was healthy-appearing, had normal strength, 2 reflexes, was able to get on and off the examination table independently, had normal gait, normal cervical spine range of motion, negative straight-leg raises, and mild right shoulder pain upon palpitation. Dr. Lee remarked that Plaintiff appeared to magnify her shoulder pain symptoms, put forth decreased effort during her shoulder examination, and had a wider range of motion when she was distracted. [Tr. 227]. Dr. Lee opined Plaintiff could lift 50 pounds occasionally and 20 pounds frequently. Her ability to stand, sit, or walk in an eight-hour day was not limited. [Tr. 228].

In January 2010, Plaintiff went to the emergency room complaining of back pain after a fall two weeks earlier. [Tr. 265-66]. She had decreased range of motion in her back and radiographs of her lumbar spine showed minimal anterior osteophyte formation, but she had normal alignment and vertebral heights with no fracture or dislocation, and the examination was normal. [Tr. 269]. Plaintiff was diagnosed with low back pain, treated with Flexeril, Percocet, and Bactrim, and told to follow up with her physician.

In June 2010, Plaintiff went to the emergency room and complained of pain and swelling in her right arm. [Tr. 252-53]. Her right elbow was swollen and had limited range of motion. An ultrasound and x-rays were negative for abnormalities. [Tr. 254-55]. Plaintiff was diagnosed with bursitis, treated with Naprosyn and Percocet, and discharged. In December 2010, Plaintiff returned to the emergency room with complaints of back pain after lifting. [Tr. 245]. She was diagnosed with low back strain, treated with Toradol, Norflex, and Tylenol, and was told to rest, ice, elevate, and follow up with her primary care provider. [Tr. 246].

In August 2011, Plaintiff saw Dr. Steven L. Hendler, M.D. for a consultative physical examination. [Tr. 324-27]. She reported pain in her back, right shoulder, and feet, and numbness in her wrists and hands. She was taking Tylenol, Advil, Ibuprofen, and Benadryl. Plaintiff had normal strength, gait, and station, and no crepitus in her shoulders or elbows. Dr. Hendler observed that despite displaying severe pain when examined, Plaintiff was able to push her full body weight up and off of the examination table several times to adjust herself and showed no pain responses. [Tr. 326]. He observed that Plaintiff did more internal shoulder rotation when she was not being actively examined. Id. He assessed back and shoulder pain and left eye blindness. He opined that there were "no objective findings to preclude [Plaintiff] from standing and/or walking on an unlimited basis, " that she may have impaired depth perception, and that her left shoulder would affect her ability to lift overhead. [Tr. 327].

On August 31, 2011, Plaintiff presented to Karen Clemens, N.P.-C., A.P.R.N., with complaints of left knee pain after falling down some steps. [Tr. 399-401]. Plaintiff stated that the pain affected her ability to complete daily activities, but that walking and Ibuprofen improved her pain. Ms. Clemens diagnosed knee pain, instructed Plaintiff to ice, rest, compress, and elevate her left leg, and encouraged her to use a knee brace and crutches. [Tr. 400-01]. After additional complaints of knee pain, an MRI revealed a grade two medial collateral ligament sprain in Plaintiff's left knee. [Tr. 367, 397].

In January 2012, Plaintiff presented to Blake Donaldson, D.O., with complaints of knee pain and a cyst on her back. [Tr. 362-64]. She had normal strength, full range of motion, and no abnormalities in her right knee despite complaints of pain on extension. Dr. Donaldson diagnosed cellulitis, sebaceous cyst, and knee pain/knee stiffness, and prescribed medication. [Tr. 364]. During two appointments in January and April 2012, Plaintiff's examination findings were the same with the exception of complaints of heel pain. [Tr. 356-61]. An x-ray revealed bone spurs in Plaintiff's heel. [Tr. 360].

In May 2012, Plaintiff presented to Akilis Theoharidis, D.P.M., with complaints of heel pain aggravated with walking. [Tr. 395-96]. Dr. Theoharidis diagnosed bilateral foot pain and plantar fasciitis and prescribed night splints, arch supports, and medication. In July 2012, a physical examination was essentially normal, and Plaintiff was ...

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