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Roberts v. Colvin

United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division

March 28, 2014



Mark J. Dinsmore United States Magistrate Judge Southern District of Indiana

Plaintiff Tamberly Roberts requests judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“Commissioner”) denying her application for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (“the Act”). See 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i), 1382c(a)(3). For the reasons set forth below, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the decision of the Commissioner be AFFIRMED.

I. Procedural History

Roberts filed this application for SSI on April 6, 2011, alleging an onset of disability of January 1, 2004.[1] Roberts’ application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Roberts requested a hearing, which was held on April 13, 2012 before Administrative Law Judge Ronald T. Jordan (“ALJ”). The ALJ denied Roberts’ application on May 18, 2012. The Appeals Council denied Roberts’ request for review on February 8, 2013, making the ALJ’s decision the final decision for purposes of this review. Roberts filed her Complaint with the Court on April 5, 2013.

II. Factual Background

Tamberly Roberts was 51 years old on the date of filing with past relevant work experience as a housekeeper. The record reflects that Roberts has a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (“COPD”), high blood pressure, obesity, reduced visual acuity, and dystymia. She has been treated for many years by her primary care physician Michael Emmons, D.O.

In November 2011, Dr. Emmons completed a Residual Functional Capacity Questionnaire on behalf of Roberts. Dr. Emmons opined that Roberts could stand/walk up to 15 minutes at one time and no more than an hour in an 8-hour workday, and that Roberts could sit up to 30 min at one time and no more than 2 hours in a workday. Dr. Emmons also opined that Roberts could only lift up to 10 pounds occasionally and could never lift 20 pounds or more. It was also Dr. Emmons opinion that Roberts would need to be absent from work more than four times a month.

Dr. Emmons also completed a Mental Capacity Assessment. In it, he opined that Roberts has significant limitations in understanding and memory, concentration and persistence, social interaction, and adaptation.

In January 2011, Roberts went for a consultative examination with the Disability Determination Bureau (“state agency”) where she was examined by Dr. Donald Perez for her visual impairment. Dr. Perez opined that Roberts would have problems with work that required fine discrimination or required rapidly moving objects coming from her periphery.

Another state agency physician, J.V. Corcoran, M.D., examined Roberts’ medical record with regard to her physical impairments and provided a case analysis and assessment in May 2011. Dr. Corcoran opined that Roberts’ physical impairments were not severe for a twelvemonth duration. In June 2011, Dr. Corcoran completed a Physical Residual Functional Capacity Assessment. In it, Dr. Corcoran opined that Roberts could lift up to 50 pounds occasionally and 25 pounds frequently. Dr. Corcoran also opined that Roberts could stand/walk for about six hours in a workday and sit for six hours in a workday. Dr. Corcoran indicated that Roberts has visual limitations that would affect her work, as well as environmental limitations. For the environmental limitations, Dr. Corcoran recommended that Roberts should avoid concentrated exposure to hazards including machinery and heights.

With regard to her mental impairments, in May 2011, Roberts underwent a psychological consultative examination with state agency psychologist Thomas Murray, Ed.D., HSPP. Dr. Murray provided a primary diagnosis of Dysthymic Disorder and opined that Roberts would have moderate to significant impairment in performing work-related activities. He further opined that her impairment was emotional in nature and would limit her ability to relate to others and to concentrate.

Following the psychological consultative examination, state agency psychologist B. Randal Horton, Psy.D., completed a Psychiatric Review Technique. He evaluated Roberts’ mental impairments under Listing 12.04 Affective Disorders and concluded that her impairments were not severe. In rating Roberts’ functional limitations under the “paragraph B” criteria, [2] Dr. Horton opined that Roberts did not have any limitations in any of the areas and experienced no episodes of decompensation of extended duration.

At the hearing, two impartial medical experts testified. With regard to Roberts’ physical impairments, Dr. Gerald Greenberg opined that Roberts could lift 20 pounds, but she should be limited to at least sedentary work, but could comfortably perform light work.

Don Olive, Ph.D. testified as to Roberts’ mental impairments. Dr. Olive opined that Roberts’ impairments did not equal a listing. With regard to the “paragraph B” criteria, it was Dr. Olive’s opinion that Roberts had mild limitations in activities of daily living; mild to moderate limitations in ...

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