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Gaddis v. Colvin

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

September 29, 2014

JOHN GADDIS, Plaintiff,



Plaintiff, John Gaddis ("Mr. Gaddis"), requests judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administrator ("the Commissioner"), denying his application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under Title II of the Social Security Act ("the Act"). For the following reasons, the Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's decision.


A. Procedural History

In a determination dated August 15, 1996, Mr. Gaddis was found disabled as of February 13, 1995, under Title II of the Act. Subsequently, it was determined that his disability continued in a determination dated March 21, 2001. On July 1, 2010, it was determined that Mr. Gaddis was no longer disabled as of July 14, 2010. On January 14, 2011, this determination was upheld on reconsideration. Thereafter, Mr. Gaddis filed a request for a hearing, which was held on April 23, 2012, before Administrative Law Judge Monica La Polt ("the ALJ"). On May 11, 2012, the ALJ denied Mr. Gaddis' claim. Mr. Gaddis filed a Request for Review, which was denied on July 18, 2013, making the ALJ's opinion stand as the Commissioner's final decision. On December 1, 2013, Mr. Gaddis filed this appeal requesting judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 405(g) and 1383(c).

B. Factual and Medical Background

At the time of the ALJ's decision, Mr. Gaddis was 47 years old and the highest level of education he completed was the twelfth grade. He lives at home with his wife, his 25 year old daughter, and two minor grandchildren. He had three dogs and he used to breed small animals and at one time had fifty to sixty gerbils, thirty guinea pigs, and one hundred cockatiels. Mr. Gaddis stated to the ALJ that he sold a few of these animals; however, he gave most of them away. He did not engage in substantial gainful activity throughout his disability term. When he had the animals, Mr. Gaddis stated he spent 30 to 45 minutes a day feeding and giving them water and his grandchildren would also feed and help him take care of the animals.

Mr. Gaddis was found disabled in a determination dated August 15, 1996, due to various impairments including back pain, affective disorder, and carpal tunnel syndrome. The most recent favorable disability determination, the comparison point decision, was March 21, 2001. The ALJ determined that a medical improvement had occurred as of July 1, 2010, since the time of the comparison decision point.

Mr. Gaddis testified that he takes medication for blood pressure, cholesterol, and back pain, as well as Prozac and Abilify. He also uses Advair every morning and a Ventolin inhaler as needed. He testified he is unable to work because he has problems leaving the house, dealing with people, and carpal tunnel syndrome in both arms. He stated he also suffers from depression with suicidal thoughts, which worsened over the past couple of years. He testified that he has lower back pain and can only sit for one hour at a time and stand for fifteen to twenty minutes at a time.

In October 2009, Mr. Gaddis reported to his treating physician at the Wagner Medical Center that he was doing much better (Filing No. 14-7, at ECF p. 20). In April 2010, Paul Roberts, Ph.D. ("Dr. Roberts"), saw Mr. Gaddis for a consultative psychiatric examination. Mr. Gaddis did not report any pain complaints, exhibit any pain related behaviors, or appear to be in any acute distress. However, Mr. Gaddis did report that his carpal and radial surgeries did not bring relief. Dr. Roberts noted that Mr. Gaddis was intact neurocognitively and had no significant psychopathology that would prevent him from securing gainful employment.

In May 2010, state agency reviewing medical expert Joelle Larsen, Ph.D., completed a psychiatric review and opined that Mr. Gaddis had no restrictions of activities of daily living. She also stated he had only mild difficulties with social functioning and maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace, and that his psychological difficulties were not significantly limiting.

In June 2010, Mr. Gaddis underwent a consultative examination with Duan Pierce, M.D. ("Dr. Pierce"), in June 2010. In this consultation, Mr. Gaddis complained of pain from his elbow down to his fingers and in his back and knees. Dr. Pierce noted that Mr. Gaddis had non-pitting pretibial edema in his bilateral extremities with no signs cyanosis, clubbing, venous stasis, arterial insufficiency, or ulceration. Dr. Pierce diagnosed Mr. Gaddis with osteoarthritis of his back and knees, sleep apnea, hypertension, cardiomegaly, asthma, and depression. Dr. Pierce also opined that Mr. Gaddis could work at the time, but would benefit from not doing any type of repetitive motions with his hands.

In July 2010, state agency reviewing medical expert J. Sands, M.D. ("Dr. Sands"), completed a physical review and capacity assessment. Dr. Sands diagnosed Mr. Gaddis with bilateral and radial tunnel and osteoarthritis of his back and knees. Dr. Sands also opined that Mr. Gaddis could perform light exertion work and could sit or stand for about six hours in an eight hour work-day.

Mr. Gaddis' disability benefits were discontinued in July 2010. In August 2010, Mr. Gaddis went to his treating physician's clinic, the Wagoner Medical Center, and expressed depression and anxiety regarding losing his social security benefits to a social worker. During this time, he also visited Family Psychiatric Center, LLC, for the depression as well. He was diagnosed with depressive disorder and assigned a current global assessment of functioning ("GAF") score of 50 and a score of 55 within the ...

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