United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
CALVIN L. DANIELS, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
ENTRY ON JUDICIAL REVIEW
DENISE K. LaRUE, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Calvin L. Daniels ("Daniels") requests judicial review of the decision of Defendant Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the "Commissioner"),  denying Daniels's application for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income ("SSI") disability benefits. For the reasons set forth below, the Commissioner's decision is AFFIRMED.
A. Procedural History
Daniels filed applications for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") and Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") on December 2, 2009, alleging an onset of disability of August 27, 2009. [Dkt. 13-2 at 11.] Daniels' applications were denied initially on February 23, 2010, and upon reconsideration on June 7, 2010. [Id.] Daniels requested a hearing, which was held on July 19, 2011, before Administrative Law Judge Tammy H. Whitaker ("ALJ"). The ALJ denied Daniels' application on September 19, 2011. [Dkt. 13-2 at 8.] The Appeals Council denied Daniels' request for review of the ALJ's decision on November 20, 2012, making the ALJ's decision final for purposes of judicial review. Daniels filed his Complaint with this Court on January 7, 2013. [Dkt. 1.]
B. Factual Background and Medical History
Daniels was born on September 11, 1959 and was 49 years old on the date of alleged onset of disability. He has past relevant work as a mechanic and truck driver. Daniels testified that he left his job as a truck driver in 2009 because he was in constant pain.
Daniels initially alleged multiple physical and mental impairments including degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, tendonitis, hypertension, asthma, obesity, carpal tunnel syndrome and diabetes. Daniels confines his request for review of the Commissioner's decision to low back pain and contends the ALJ erred in her analysis of Listing 1.04 (Disorders of the Spine). Accordingly, the Court will confine its recitation of Daniels' medical history to the records relevant to this Listing.
In May 2003, Daniels underwent an MRI of his lumbar spine because he was experiencing bilateral leg numbness and pain. The MRI indicated disc desiccation, moderate vertical narrowing and nerve impingement at the left L3 ganglion/nerve. An X-ray of the lumbar spine in 2010 revealed minor lumbar osteophytes and no other evidence of lumbar disease.
In February 2010, Daniels underwent a Social Security medical examination with Dr. Safadi, M.D. Daniels reported sharp, intermittent pain that worsens with activity. Dr. Safadi noted decreased range of motion in his hips and lumbar region due to back pain. Also in February 2010, Daniels underwent a Physical Residual Functional Capacity Assessment with Dr. Whitely, M.D. Dr. Whitely noted decreased range of motion in the lumbar spine and hips due to back pain. However, Dr. Whitely also noted Daniels had no perceived difficulty in walking and performed squats "completely w/o difficulty." [Dkt. 13-7 at 50.] Dr. Whitely concluded that Daniels could occasionally lift and carry 20 pounds; frequently lift and carry 10 pounds; stand, sit and walk up to six hours in a work day and was unlimited in his ability to push and pull. Id.
Daniels treated with Dr. Rinderknecht, M.D., several times in 2010 for osteoarthritis of the back, hips, knees and shoulders. Daniels received antiinflammatory medication and injections as treatment for the pain.
II. LEGAL STANDARDS
A. Standard for Proving Disability
To be eligible for SSI and DIB, a claimant must show he is unable to "engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months." 42 U.S.C. § ...