United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
CHRISTINA M. TUCKER, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. RODOVICH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the court on the petition for judicial
review of the decision of the Commissioner filed by the
plaintiff, Christina M. Tucker, on January 4,
2016. For the following reasons, the decision of
the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.
plaintiff, Christina M. Tucker, filed an application for
Supplemental Security Income on December 18, 2012, alleging a
disability onset date of October 1, 2012. (Tr. 10). The
Disability Determination Bureau denied Tucker's
application on April 9, 2012, and again upon reconsideration
on June 12, 2013. (Tr. 10). Tucker subsequently filed a
timely request for a hearing on July 10, 2013. (Tr. 10). A
hearing was held on October 2, 2014, before Administrative
Law Judge (ALJ) Terry Miller, and the ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision on December 17, 2014. (Tr. 10-26).
Vocational expert (VE) Sharon D. Ringenberg, Tucker, and
Tucker's mother, Anne Johnson, testified at the hearing.
(Tr. 10). The Appeals Council denied review, making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
one of the five step sequential analysis for determining
whether an individual is disabled, the ALJ found that Tucker
had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since
December 18, 2012, the application date. (Tr. 12). At step
two, the ALJ determined that Tucker had the following severe
impairments: history of low back pain, likely myofascial,
obesity, history of headaches including migraines, major
depressive disorder/depressive disorder, and anxiety. (Tr.
12). The ALJ reported that Tucker's impairments, or
combination of impairments, were severe and more than
minimally affected her ability to perform work related
activities that required heavy lifting, extreme climbing, and
more than occasional performance of other postural maneuvers.
(Tr. 12). Also, the ALJ indicated that she must avoid
exposure to loud noises and bright flashing lights, and that
she could not tolerate sudden or unpredictable work place
changes. (Tr. 12). Finally, he found that Tucker could not
maintain tasks requiring intense or focused attention for
prolonged periods and that her ability to interact with
others was diminished. (Tr. 12).
found that Tucker's right shoulder complaints were
resolved in less than seven months and that her allegations
of ongoing pain were not supported by the evidence. (Tr. 12).
Tucker claimed that her fingers locked up, but she was unsure
of how long it had been happening. (Tr. 12). The ALJ
determined that the evidence was insufficient to establish a
severe hand, finger, or wrist impairment. (Tr. 12-13). Tucker
reported that she had left arm numbness that tingled and
extended down to her fingertips at her October 9, 2013 and
November 28, 2013 primary care visits. (Tr. 13). However, the
ALJ indicated that both examinations were normal. (Tr. 13).
Tucker saw R. Yu Mendador, M.D., who reported no abnormal
upper extremity findings and no diagnosis of hand or wrist
problems. (Tr. 13.)
also found that Tucker's left arm complaints were
resolved in less than 12 months and that her examination
results were normal. (Tr.13). On November 8, 2012, Tucker
complained about her right wrist and reported that she was
unable to lift more than two pounds. (Tr. 13). She was
prescribed Naprosyn, which the ALJ indicated appeared to be
effective because no further reports of wrist pain were made
during treatment. (Tr. 13). Moreover, Tucker had full range
of motion and her fine manipulation, gross manipulation,
gripping, and grasping were intact at the 2013 consultative
physical examination. (Tr. 13).
testified that she experienced pain in the back of her legs
if her legs got cold and that at times she felt like her foot
was curving in. (Tr. 13). She reported that Dr. Yu-Mendador
believed that neuropathy was present in her legs due to a
previous head injury. (Tr. 13). However, the ALJ indicated
that Tucker was prescribed Neurontin for treatment of
restless leg syndrome (RLS). (Tr. 13). The ALJ noted that the
records did not indicate that Tucker failed to respond to
treatment for RLS or that it occurred for the 12-month
durational requirement. (Tr. 13-14). Tucker also complained
of chest pain, but the ALJ found that Dr. Yu-Mendador's
records showed intermittent complaints of chest pain and that
no cardiac testing had been recommended or performed. (Tr.
14). The ALJ noted that at Tucker's most recent visit in
May 2014 she did not complain of chest pain. (Tr. 14).
three, the ALJ concluded that Tucker did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled the severity of one of the listed
impairments. (Tr. 14). Specifically, the ALJ found that
Tucker did not meet Listing 1.04, Disorders of the Spine,
because there was no evidence of root compression, limitation
in motion, motor loss, and she performed a positive straight
leg test. (Tr. 14). Also, the ALJ found that Tucker's
mental impairments did not meet the criteria of Listings
12.04 or 12.06. In finding that Tucker did not meet the above
listings, the ALJ considered the paragraph B criteria for
mental impairments, which required at least two of the
marked restriction of activities of daily living; marked
difficulties in maintaining social functioning; marked
difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or
pace; or repeated episodes of decompensation, each of
14). The ALJ defined a marked limitation as more than
moderate but less than extreme and repeated episodes of
decompensation, each of extended duration, as three episodes
within one year or once every four months with each episode
lasting at least two weeks. (Tr. 14-15).
found that Tucker had mild restrictions in daily living
activities. (Tr. 15). The ALJ indicated that the treatment
record was inconsistent with the testimony of Tucker and her
mother that Tucker had more bad days than good and stayed in
bed on bad days. (Tr. 15). Throughout her treatment at the
Bowen Center, which began in late 2012, psychiatrist S.
Maharjan, M.D., reported that Tucker was able to do her daily
routine and daily chores with no reports of her spending days
in bed. (Tr. 15). The function reports completed by Tucker
and her mother in January of 2013 indicated that Tucker
prepared simple meals, washed dishes, and helped care for the
family's pets. (Tr. 15). Also, Tucker reported that she
enjoyed television, movies, and listening to music, but that
she had a diminished interest in writing and drawing. (Tr.
15). She testified that she spent her time playing games and
on the computer. (Tr. 15). Also, she occasionally needed to
be reminded about her self-care. (Tr. 15). She stated that
she was able to cook microwavable meals and on the stovetop
occasionally. (Tr. 15). The ALJ concluded that the record as
a whole failed to establish more than mild limitations in
activities of daily living. (Tr. 15).
found that Tucker had moderate difficulties in social
functioning. (Tr. 15). Tucker reported that she did not have
an interest in having friends. (Tr. 15). However, the ALJ
noted that during her treatment at Bowen she indicated that
she was interested in establishing friendships. (Tr. 15). In
the January 2013 function report, Tucker and her mother
confirmed that she did not have difficulty getting along with
authority figures. (Tr. 15). The ALJ indicated that Tucker
had appropriate interaction with treating and examining
sources. (Tr. 15). Therefore, the ALJ concluded that the
evidence in the record failed to establish that Tucker was
unable to maintain appropriate interactions and that she had
marked limitations in social functioning. (Tr. 15).
determined that Tucker had moderate difficulties in
concentration, persistence, or pace. (Tr. 15). The ALJ noted
that the treatment records indicated that Tucker wrote
scripts and had a copyrighted piece of fiction, which the ALJ
concluded required a high level of concentration and
persistence. (Tr. 15). Also, Tucker testified that she was
able to play computer games for approximately an hour. (Tr.
15). Dr. Maharjan indicated that Tucker's attention and
concentration were either “fair” or
“good” and noted an average knowledge/intellect.
(Tr. 15). Therefore, the ALJ concluded that the objective
evidence failed to establish marked limitations in
concentration, persistence, or pace. (Tr. 15).
concluded that Tucker did not satisfy the paragraph B
criteria because her mental impairments did not cause at
least two marked limitations or one marked limitation and
repeated episodes of decompensation of extended duration.
(Tr. 16). He also found that Tucker did not satisfy the
paragraph C criteria because Tucker's mental impairments
would not be expected to cause decompensation if she were
placed in a typical work ...