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Walford v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Northern Division

April 7, 2014

JULIE M. WALFORD, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

CHARLES B. KORNMANN, District Judge.

Plaintiff brought this action pursuant to § 205(g) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), to obtain judicial review of defendant's final decision denying plaintiffs claim for disability insurance benefits. I have conducted a de novo review of the record. I find that the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was born in 1957. She is a high school graduate and studied medical assisting in vocational school for one year. She worked part time from 1976 to 1986 and worked full time from 1987 to 2009. She has experience doing computer data entry for a sales and service business, doing claims work for an insurance company, being an administrative assistant/office manager for a parts and service company and working as a buyer/planner (also a computer job) for a manufacturer.

In September 2009, she accepted her employer's offer for a voluntary layoff with three months severance pay and she never went back to work. She applied for disability insurance benefits on February 19, 2010, alleging a disability onset date of September 19, 2009.

At the time of her disability claim plaintiff was taking medications for depression, interstitial cystitis (painful bladder syndrome), anxiety, fibromyalgia, rapid heart beat and high cholesterol. She explained in her claim:

The pain of fibromyalgia, depression and anxiety issues are too intense to work at a job. My depression and anxiety issues are not changing with medication because of my sensitivity to these medications, which involves side effects I cannot handle. For three months I have been working on getting better by changing medications and exercises. My depression and anxiey (sic) is not improving. The fibromyalgia pain is still there. The change in weather continuously affects my pain. I have had these symptoms for years and they are not improving, but they are getting worse.
* * *
The pain I feel is nerve pain and there is no cure for it. This is my main disability. I cannot work any more because the pain keeps getting worse every year. Which (sic) makes my depression and anxiety worse.

Dr. Kevin Whittle issued a residual functional capacity assessment on March 26, 2010, wherein he listed plaintiff's primary diagnosis as fibromyalgia, secondary diagnosis as irritable bowel syndrome, and other alleged impairments as GERD and interstitial cystitis. Dr. Whittle determined that:

The plaintiff has a medically determinable impairment. In her function report she cites no limitations in the independent performance of her ADLs. She is able to make simple meals, do chores and shop. She cited limitations in numerous physical abilities and alleged pain and fatigue. The degree of her alleged limitations is not supported by the records in the file. Her statements are found to be partially credible.

Whittle opined that plaintiff was limited to medium level work with no further limitations.

A psychiatric review and mental residual functional capacity assessment were completed by M. Dilger on April 20, 2010. It was determined that plaintiff had medically determinable depression and anxiety impairments that had improved. The degree of functional limitation was described as mild in plaintiff's daily living activities and social functioning and moderate in maintaining concentration and persistence of pace. The assessment states that the evidence does not establish that any of plaintiff's mental health conditions were chronic or were more than moderately limiting.

Plaintiff's claim was denied on April 27, 2010. Plaintiff filed a request for reconsideration on May 13, 2010. Jerry Buchkoski, Ph.D., conducted a case analysis of plaintiffs records on June 23, 2010, and concluded that plaintiff was "doing better with changes in medication... ...


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