United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
PATRICIA M. BRUNDIGE, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
Plaintiff, Patricia M. Brundige, seeks review of the final
decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration denying her application for Disability
Insurance Benefits. The Plaintiff alleges that her disability
began on March 20, 2012. An ALJ conducted a one-hour hearing
in December 2013, at which the Plaintiff-who was represented
by an attorney-her husband, and a vocational expert (VE)
testified. On April 22, 2014, the ALJ found that the
Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: degenerative
disc disease, mild carpal tunnel syndrome, history of
bilateral rotator cuff repair, depression, pain disorder,
asthma/COPD/allergies, plantar fasciitis, and
gastrointestinal disorders including alcoholic pancreatitis,
irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulosis/diverticulitis, and
history of multiple hernia repairs. However, the ALJ
ultimately concluded that the Plaintiff is not disabled. On
June 24, 2015, the Appeals Council denied the
Plaintiff’s request for review, making the ALJ’s
decision the Commissioner’s final decision. The
Plaintiff then initiated this civil action for judicial
review of the Commissioner’s final decision.
Plaintiff was 48 years old at the time of her alleged onset
date, and she turned 50 during the pendency of her claim. The
Plaintiff has a high school education and a beauty college
certificate. Her past relevant work includes cafeteria
attendant, which was unskilled and light per the Dictionary
of Occupational Titles (DOT) and medium as performed;
cashier, which was light as performed as part of the
cafeteria attendant job, and; food worker, which was an
unskilled light job per the DOT and medium as she performed
The Plaintiff’s Testimony
Plaintiff believes she cannot work because of pain from head
to toe. (R. 51.)
My stomach is the worst. I can get really sharp pains.
What’s worse now is the swelling and the pain in there
that it’s causing, and it goes through to my back,
which initially will set off my back problems and my hips,
and which initially will go down my legs to me knees, once in
a while to my toes. I have the sciatic pains. Plantar
fasciitis, which is very painful in my feet.
(Id.) The Plaintiff also testified about her concern
with “trigger thumb” on her right hand.
Plaintiff admitted that her pain medications, Neurontin and
Bentyl, “take the worst of the pain out, ” but
that she continued to have pain. (R. 52.) Side effects
included sleepiness, dizziness, and forgetfulness. (R. 53.)
The Plaintiff testified that she had to take a nap
“[a]lmost every day, ” because she did not sleep
more than four hours at a time, but also stated that Zoloft
helped her sleep at night. (R. 61-62.) She did not take more
heavy-duty narcotics because she had become “hooked on
them” in the past. (R. 58.)
describing a typical day, the Plaintiff stated that she got
up in the morning, tried to do her stretches, and fed the
dog. “And basically I’m up and down off of the
sofa. I try to do-I visit the restroom often, very often.
Most of the time I’m down, either sitting or
laying.” (R. 56-57.) On a good day, she would visit the
restroom about six times over a period of about six hours. On
a bad day, when she was experiencing diarrhea, she would use
the restroom at least 10 to 12 times. (R. 57.) According to
the Plaintiff, she had more bad days than good days in a
week. A bad day involved “staying in bed, going back
and forth to the restroom, when everything’s hurting.
When you hurt so bad you can’t get up and go take your
medicines and make it feel a little bit better.”
Plaintiff had not had any recent emergency room visits, but
wanted to go about a month earlier for “a real bad bout
of vomiting and diarrhea for four hours straight, ” but
decided to stay home when it subsided. (R. 53.)
household chores, the Plaintiff did dishes, but did not
finish the job if there were a lot of them. She also dusted.
Vacuuming hurt her back too much. The Plaintiff did some
grocery shopping, but her husband did the majority of the
Testimony from the Plaintiff’s Husband
Brundige testified that he worked from 7 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.,
and that when he arrived home, his wife was usually laying
down in bed, he would fix his own dinner. Mr. Brundige
thought that his wife had more bad days than good days. He
stated that he did all of the chores outside the house, and
everything inside except dusting and the dishes.
December 2013, the Plaintiff obtained opinions from two of
her treating physicians, Gastroenterologist Imad Horani, and
pain specialist Jon Karl.
Medical Source Statement, Dr. Imad Horani listed the
Plaintiff’s diagnoses to include chronic alcoholic
pancreatitis, diverticulosis, acute pancreatitis, irritable
bowel syndrome, abdominal pain, and diarrhea reflux. (R.
774.) His prognosis was that this was a chronic disease. Dr.
Horani cited abnormal blood work values, abnormal imaging
studies, and distended small bowel in the left upper quadrant
as the clinical findings and objective signs for her medical
conditions. Dr. Horani described her pain as abdominal and
epigastric “occurring daily with bouts of increasing
pain waxing and waning.” (R. 775.) With respect to her
functional limitations at full time employment, he indicated
that she “may need day off from time to time” for
“abdominal pain not controlled by medication.”
(R. 776.) He opined that she would miss work more than three
times per month, and that she would be able to stay on task
in unskilled work for 80% to 84% of a workday.