United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
LAURA A. RENNER, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration,  Defendant.
ENTRY ON JUDICIAL REVIEW
J. McKINNEY, JUDGE.
Laura A. Renner (“Renner”) requests judicial
review of the final decision of Defendant Nancy A. Berryhill,
Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(the “Commissioner”), who denied Renner's
application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security
Act, 42 U.S.C § 423(d). Renner asserts that (1) the ALJ
failed to properly assess the credibility of Renner's
testimony and (2) the ALJ did not give proper weight to the
opinion of Renner's treating physician. See
generally, Dkt. No. 10. The Commissioner contends that
the substantial evidence supports the ALJ's findings and
that the ALJ adequately explained his reasoning for finding
that Renner was not disabled. See generally, Dkt.
filed her application for DIB on January 23, 2013, alleging
that her disability began on December 22, 2012. R. at
140-143. The claim was denied initially on March 27, 2013, R.
at 69-72, and upon reconsideration on May 10, 2013. R. at
74-76. Renner timely requested a hearing before the ALJ on
June 5, 2013. R. at 78-79.
October 9, 2014, the ALJ held a hearing, at which Renner, who
was represented by counsel, and a vocational expert
testified. R. at 29-51. On October 30, 2014, the ALJ found
that Renner was not disabled. R. at 17-25. The Appeals
Council denied Renner's request for review on March 2,
2016, rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of
the Commissioner. R. at 1-7. On April 21, 2016, Renner filed
the instant appeal pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
AGE, EDUCATION, WORK HISTORY & RENNER'S PERCEPTION OF
was thirty-one years old at the time of the alleged onset
date. She has a high school education. Renner has past
relevant work experience as a sewer line photo inspector and
as a material handler. R. at 33-34, 48. At the hearing on
October 9, 2014, Renner testified that she stopped working
because of pain in her knees. R. at 35-36. Renner stated that
she tried to go back to work in 2012 after having surgery on
her knees, but was not able to get in and out of a van, as
required for her work as a sewer line photo inspector.
Id. She further testified that she could not return
to her company to perform a less physical job because all of
those positions were already filled. R. at 36-37. Renner
indicated that she again tried to return to work as a sewer
line photo inspector on a part-time basis in May 2014 but
only lasted a month before having to leave again. R. at 45-
46. Renner also stated that she uses a cane on a limited
basis but did not use the cane when she attempted to work. R.
testified that she is able to take care of her four-year old
son with her mother's assistance. R. at 40. She further
stated that her mother helps her with laundry, vacuuming, and
walking her dogs. R. at 41. Renner also testified that she is
responsible for doing the dishes but that it usually takes
her twenty minutes to finish and that she must typically take
a break while doing them. R. at 41-42. Renner further
indicated that that she does not drive anymore except to
drive her son down the street to his preschool and back two
days every week. R. at 40. When asked about her medical
records that showed she had contracted poison ivy, Renner
stated that she contracted it simply by being outside in her
yard. R. at 38. Renner also admitted that she tried to help
her mother move a small freezer by pushing the freezer
sideways. R. at 39, 43-44.
addition to her knee pain, Renner stated that she has
experienced some migraines and symptoms of depression as a
result of her condition. R. at 44. Renner testified that she
was currently taking a medication for her thyroid, Wellbutrin
for depression, and Percocet for the pain in her knees. R. at
38. She indicated that Kimberly Franklin, M.D. (“Dr.
Franklin”), had prescribed her Percocet after her prior
pain specialist, Robert Kravitz, M.D. (“Dr.
Kravitz”), had retired. R. at 38-39. She also stated
that she experiences drowsiness as a side effect of her
medications. R. at 45.
describing the pain in her knees, Renner testified that her
knees feel restless if she is sitting for too long. R. at 42.
She stated that she can sit for about ten minutes at a time
and then has to stand. R. at 42. Renner also indicated that
she can stand in place for about five to ten minutes at a
time before she begins experiencing throbbing in her knees.
R. at 42-43. She further testified that she can walk for
about five to ten minutes at a time and can lift a gallon of
milk, but can no longer pick up her son. R. at 43.
RELEVANT MEDICAL EVIDENCE
January 11, 2012, Renner presented to Gregory Hardin, M.D.
(“Dr. Hardin”). R. at 207-208. Upon examination,
Dr. Hardin found that Renner was guarding and held her knee
in a flexed position. R. at 207. Dr. Hardin also noted that
Renner's range of motion was limited with regard to
flexion and extension and that Renner had an antalgic limp.
R. at 207-208. Renner underwent MRIs on both of her knees
that same day, which revealed that she suffered from
patellofemoral degenerative joint disease in her right knee
and a patellar cartilage defect in her left knee. R. at
194-197, 221-222. To resolve Renner's knee pain, Dr.
Hardin performed surgeries on each of Renner's knees in
the summer of 2012. R. at 202, 233.
August 13, 2012, Renner returned to Dr. Hardin for a
follow-up examination. R. at 203, 225, 294. Dr. Hardin noted
that Renner was “progressing well and as
expected” following her knee surgeries and that her
range of motion had progressed to nearly full range of
motion. Id. During this examination, Renner also
informed Dr. Hardin that she had returned to work the
previous week. Id. Renner again presented to Dr.
Hardin for a post-surgical examination on September 21, 2012.
R. at 202, 224. During this examination, Dr. Hardin continued
to indicate that Renner was “progressing well”
and recommended certain medications to help alleviate any
further symptoms. Id.
October 29, 2012, Renner visited Dr. Hardin, complaining of
continued bilateral knee pain. R. at 218, 239. Dr. Hardin
gave Renner an injection of Synvisc One to help alleviate her
pain. Id. On November 16, 2012, Renner again visited
Dr. Hardin and indicated the injection did not help. R. at
209, 237. Dr. Hardin recommended that Renner continue with
non-surgical treatments and referred her to pain management
to help control her symptoms. R. at 210, 238.
December 26, 2012, Renner presented to Dr. Kravitz for
further treatment for her knee pain. R. at 261. Dr. Kravitz
did not believe Renner was a candidate for additional surgery
at that time. Id. He also found that Renner had some
guarding and some antalgia, but had normal strength and had
“no weakness whatsoever.” Id. ...