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Hensley v. Colvin

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division

February 2, 2015




Plaintiff William D. Hensley ("Mr. Hensley") requests judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the "Commissioner"), denying his application for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act ("the Act"). For the following reasons, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.


A. Procedural Background

Mr. Hensley filed an application for DIB on July 7, 2010, and an application for SSI on July 31, 2010. These applications initially were denied on November 5, 2010. They were again denied after reconsideration on March 2, 2011. Thereafter, Mr. Hensley requested a hearing, which was held via video conference on May 7, 2012, before Administrative Law Judge Larry A. Temin ("the ALJ"). On May 23, 2012, the ALJ denied Mr. Hensley's applications for benefits. Mr. Hensley appealed the ALJ's decision, and on July 8, 2013, the Appeals Council denied his request for review, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner for purposes of judicial review. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.1481. On September 9, 2013, Mr. Hensley filed this appeal, requesting judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3).

B. Factual Background

At the time of his alleged disability onset, Mr. Hensley was forty-nine years old. The highest level of education that he completed was the eighth grade. He lived at home with his wife and three minor children. His past work experience included automotive parts welder, forklift operator, and driver in the Army. Mr. Hensley was steadily employed until his last job ended as a result of being laid off in April 2009.

Regarding his physical limitations, Mr. Hensley testified that he can no longer work because of the pain in his back, arms, hands, and feet. He also stated that he has depression and problems with sleeping. Mr. Hensley testified that he has chronic pain in all of his joints, numbness in his left hand, a slight tremor in his right hand, pain in his right foot, migraines with vomiting and photosensitivity, worsening vision, and poor balance. He testified that he drives several times a week and takes care of his children. Most of the household chores are performed by his wife, and his cousin does his yard work.

Mr. Hensley alleged a disability onset date of January 22, 2009. In October 2010, Doctor William Garner ("Dr. Garner") at St. Catherine Physician Group, examined Mr. Hensley. Dr. Garner opined that Mr. Hensley appeared to have a great amount of pain with decreased movement in many joints, a slight tremor in his hands, and an inability to walk properly due to pain and discomfort. Dr. Garner also noted that due to the slight tremor, Mr. Hensley had difficulty effectively performing fine movements such as buttoning, zipping, and picking up coins. Dr. Garner did not have any x-rays to confirm osteoarthritis.

Mr. Hensley was treated at the Veterans Administration Medical Center ("VAMC") for major depression between July 2009 and January 2011. He reported that his depression was attributable to chronic back pain, not being able to work, and having financial stress. Scott Memorial Hospital emergency records show that Mr. Hensley was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease and disc height loss in September 2009.

In October 2010, Doctor Greg Lynch ("Dr. Lynch") conducted a psychological evaluation of Mr. Hensley. Dr. Lynch diagnosed Mr. Hensley with major depressive disorder and assigned a Global Assessment Functioning of 55 based solely on social functioning. Dr. Lynch opined that Mr. Hensley's capacity to understand, remember, and carry out simple instructions towards performance of simple repetitive tasks is limited due to his impairments. Dr. Lynch reported that Mr. Hensley would be slightly to moderately limited in work settings because of his impairments. However, a state agency "Psychiatric Review Technique" form was completed by Doctor Ken Lovko, which stated that Mr. Hensley's mental impairments were not severe and rated his functional limitations as mild.

In November 2010, a state agency reviewing medical expert, Doctor Robert Bond ("Dr. Bond"), completed a physical review and capacity assessment. Dr. Bond diagnosed Mr. Hensley with lower back pain. He also opined that Mr. Hensley could lift or carry ten pounds frequently and twenty pounds occasionally, sit or stand for a total of six hours in an eight-hour day, and occasionally perform all postural movements. Dr. Bond also reported that Mr. Hensley had no joint deformity noted in his examinations, had normal x-rays in both hands in July 2009, and had a weak grip.


Under the Act, a claimant may be entitled to DIB or SSI only after he establishes that he has a disability. Disability is defined as the "inability 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. § 423(d)(1)(A). In order to be found disabled, a claimant must demonstrate that his physical or mental limitations prevent him from doing not only his previous work, but any ...

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