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Schiler v. Colvin

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

January 9, 2015



NANETTE K. LAUGHREY, District Judge.

Plaintiff Michael Schiler seeks review of the Administrative Law Judge's decision denying his application for Social Security benefits. For the following reasons, the decision of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is affirmed.

I. Background

This case is Schiler's second appeal from a decision denying him Social Security benefits. Schiler was first denied benefits by an ALJ in 2011. The decision denying benefits was subsequently remanded for further consideration. The ALJ rendered a second decision denying Schiler benefits on February 13, 2014.

A. Schiler's Medical History

In 2008, Schiler was seen for fatigue, left arm pain, and depression. [Tr. 233]. He was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and shoulder strain. Id. In 2010 Schiler began to seek more extensive treatment for arm and shoulder pain. In January 2010, Schiler's doctor noted that he had a good range of motion in his left shoulder and any pain was from non-use. [Tr. 366]. In April 2010 Schiler went to the emergency room for right shoulder pain caused by mowing the lawn. [Tr. 388-91]. He reported that activities like cooking, showering, and mowing aggravated his shoulder. [Tr. 352]. In May 2010 he returned to the emergency room again for right shoulder pain. He was referred to a surgeon for possible surgery. He reported having difficulty finding a doctor to perform surgery. [Tr. 385].

In July 2010 Schiler fell off his tractor and landed on his right shoulder. [Tr. 379]. He underwent x-rays of his right shoulder and humerous, which showed comminuted right humeral head and neck fracture with mild displacement and mild angulation and grade 3-4 right AC joint separation. [Tr. 382-83]. He underwent right proximal humerous fracture surgery on July 23, 2010. [Tr. 397]. Schiler continued to see doctors for his shoulder pain throughout the remainder of 2010 and continually reported significant pain. Various doctors noted that his range of motion was restricted. By December, his proximal humerus was fully healed but he continued to have joint pain. [Tr. 420].

In January 2011, Schiler was given an injection of lidocaine and Kenalog by Dr. Matthew Smith, but the doctor declined to prescribe narcotics. [Tr. 851]. It was recommended that Schiler go for pain management. Id. In April 2011, he underwent an EMG and was assessed with right shoulder pain, neuralgia, neuritis, and radiculitis. [Tr. 432]. An EMG in May 2011 revealed right carpal tunnel syndrome of mild to moderate severity. [Tr. 430]. In July 2011, Schiler visited Dr. Smith again. He diagnosed scapulothoracic crepitus but did not recommend any treatment. [Tr. 849]. In July 2011, Dr. Matthew Nadler performed a suprascapular nerve block. [Tr. 867].

In January 2012, Schiler returned to Dr. Smith due to his shoulder pain and requested removal of plate in his shoulder. [Tr. 880-81]. Dr. Smith documented that he did not recommend surgery and believed that it would not help relieve Schiler's pain. Id. On February 15, 2012, Schiler underwent surgery. He reported later that month that he was doing well and his pain was fairly well-controlled. [Tr. 895]. Schiler continued to seek treatment for pain throughout 2012. His range of motion was documented as significantly improved in May 2012. [Tr. 892]. In June 2012 he reported his pain as only three out of ten. [Tr. 936]. In August 2012, Dr. Barnhill diagnosed Schiler with post-traumatic glenohumeral arthritis and chronic AC separation. Dr. Barnhill recommended a corticosteroid injection. [Tr. 917]. In November 2012, Schiler underwent an MRI of the lumbar spine. The MRI revealed disc bulging at 5-1, mild annular bulging of the 4-5 disc without stenosis, and mild facet arthropathy from 2-3 through 5-1. [Tr. 928-29]. In December 2012, Schiler fell and an x-ray revealed multiple rib fracture. [Tr. 982].

In addition to his physical conditions, Schiler suffers from mental impairments. In February 2010, Schiler presented to Dr. Mehrunissa Ali for a psychiatric evaluation. [Tr. 321-24]. Dr. Ali noted that Schiler tended to lose his train of thought and his mood was anxious. Id. He was diagnosed with recurrent major depression, panic disorder with agoraphobia, and polysubstance dependence in remission. Id. He returned to Dr. Ali in May. Dr. Ali noted that Schiler sat in a hunched position and reported he was in pain. Schiler continually told his doctors throughout 2010 and 2011 that he felt depressed.

In December 2011, Schiler reported depression, bipolar, anxiety, loss of interest in things he used to enjoy, decreased motivation, racing thoughts, difficulty with sleep, low self-esteem, poor concentration, withdrawal from others, fear or anxiety around others, difficulty focusing, and chronic pain. [Tr. 1001]. He reported that he enjoyed watching TV and playing video games. [Tr. 1002]. Schiler's counselor, Lisa Rau, noted that Schiler had a slight delay in speech but was of at least average intelligence. [Tr. 1000]. In March 2012, Nurse Mary Chance diagnosed Schiler with recurrent major depressive disorder and insomnia. [Tr. 995-96]. At a follow up appointment with Nurse Chance in October 2012, Schiler reported that his sleep had improved and he walked at least three and one half miles per day. [Tr. 988].

B. ALJ Decision

The ALJ denied Schiler's request for disability benefits, concluding that Schiler had the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to engage in substantial gainful activity. The ALJ concluded that despite Schiler's severe impairments of degenerative joint disease of the right shoulder status post ORIF in 2005, history of fractured humerus status post ORIF surgery in 2010, mild carpal tunnel syndrome, back pain, depression, and anxiety, he retained the following RFC:

[T]o perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) with the ability to lift, carry, push or pull 20 pounds occasionally, 10 pounds frequently, sit 6 or 8 hours and stand/walk 6 of 8 hours, with no crawling, no climbing of ladders, ropes or scaffolds, and no above shoulder work with the right upper extremity, no kneeling or crouching, no power grasping or twisting with the right upper extremity, and no exposure to vibration; ...

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