United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER AFFIRMING THE DECISION
OF THE COMMISSIONER
E. SCHREIER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Ginger Glo Rumzis, seeks review of the decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying
her claim for disability insurance benefits (SSDI) under
Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 423.
Docket 18. The Commissioner opposes the motion and urges the
court to affirm the denial of benefits. Docket 20. For the
following reasons, the court affirms the decision of the
filed an application for SSDI benefits on May 12, 2014,
alleging disability since October 19, 2013. AR 240. The
Commissioner denied her claim initially on October 9, 2014,
and upon reconsideration on April 8, 2015. AR 146, 128.
Rumzis then appeared with counsel before Administrative Law
Judge (ALJ) Denzel R. Busick at an administrative hearing on
January 27, 2017. See AR 71 (transcript of hearing).
The ALJ issued an opinion affirming the denial of benefits on
March 10, 2017. AR 20. The Appeals Council denied Rumzis'
request for review on January 16, 2018. AR 1. Thus,
Rumzis' appeal of the Commissioner's final decision
is properly before the court under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
was born on May 8, 1973. AR 114. She was 40 years old on the
alleged onset date, and she lived in Arizona when she
initially applied for SSDI. AR 115. Rumzis completed a
Bachelor of Arts in music education and has received an LLB
from Nottingham Trent University. AR 380. She has worked
several jobs in music, including as an elementary band
director, choir director, and music teacher, and she also
spent time working as a paralegal. AR 125.
has a history of several medical conditions, including a
herniated disc, tear, and canal stenosis in her neck,
depression, anxiety, stomach issues, scoliosis, right knee
damage, and neck pain related to a prior car accident. AR
295. She presented to the emergency room on October 8, 2013,
complaining of weakness and dizziness that had worsened over
three weeks. AR 424. She had a Head/Brain CT scan, which
showed no acute intracranial abnormalities. AR 423. Rumzis
again presented to the emergency room on November 20, 2013,
complaining of weakness and dizziness after a chiropractor
appointment. AR 417. Following a CT scan of her cervical
spine that day, Dr. Ron Shinar noted mild degenerative
changes at ¶ 5-6 and mild levoconvex scoliosis. AR 415.
She also had an MRI of her cervical spine on February 21,
2014, and the radiologist noted a “[t]ear of the
posterior annulus with midline posterior disc herniation at
¶ 5-C6 impinging on the ventral aspect of the spinal
cord resulting in mild central canal stenosis.” AR 452.
On February 24, 2014, Rumzis presented to the Pain Management
Associates at Hedley Orthopaedics Institute in Arizona for
her neck and upper back pain. AR 430. She rated her pain at
¶ 2/10 with medication, but an 8/10 without medication.
Id. Kirk Bowden, DO, diagnosed her with cervical
spondylosis, brachial neuritis, and cervicalgia. AR 432.
received monthly treatment for her ongoing neck pain at
Heavens Medical PLC in Arizona in 2014. See AR
499-519. Treatment notes from Dr. Jason Heavens show that her
medical providers managed her pain medication, directed her
to continue with her chiropractic care and physical therapy,
and discussed her cortisone injections. AR 500. Rumzis also
reported that her neck pain increased her anxiety, she
suffered from nausea and other side effects due to her
medication, and she fatigued easily. AR 501, 503. At times,
it was noted that physical therapy decreased her pain and
increased her mobility. AR 505.
received chiropractic care for her neck and upper back issues
many times in 2013 and 2014. See AR 434-498. She
also participated in several physical therapy sessions at
Ideal Physical Therapy in Arizona in 2014. See AR
521-573. Physical therapy notes indicate that Rumzis
tolerated her exercises, felt improvement in her neck pain
symptoms following therapy sessions, and benefited overall.
Id. In September 2014, Rumzis had a lipoma removed
from her upper back after her providers suggested removal of
the small mass in order to potentially alleviate some of her
symptoms. AR 585.
psychological care, Rumzis saw Dr. Jessica Leclerc, a
clinical psychologist in Arizona, in 2014. AR 602. Dr.
Leclerc diagnosed her with panic disorder and an unspecified
depressive disorder. AR 606. Dr. Leclerc noted that Rumzis
did not exhibit problems with understanding, concentration,
or persistence, and she scored well on a mini-mental status
exam that tested her memory. AR 605-607.
and 2016, she saw Dr. Shawn Culey at Avera in Sioux Falls for
her neurological symptoms and low blood pressure. AR 708-750.
After discussing many of Rumzis' labs and testing
results, Dr. Culey recommended Rumzis to see Dr. Todd
Zimprich, a neurologist in Sioux Falls, for her
lightheadedness and fainting. AR 724. She underwent an
autonomic screen test at his direction, but Dr. Zimprich
noted the test did not give a “clear POTS
diagnosis.” AR 703. She also permanently moved back to
South Dakota at some point in 2016, and Dr. Culey's notes
indicate that Rumzis felt somewhat better living in South
Dakota. AR 743.
the administrative hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from
Rumzis; Mercedes Lodnel, the daughter of Rumzis; and Frank
Samlaska, a vocational expert. AR 73. Rumzis, represented by
counsel at the hearing, testified about her education, work
experience, and the difficulties she has had while working or
around the house. She testified that she has a Bachelor of
Arts in music education AR 78. Rumzis has been a music
teacher, band director, and a choral director. AR 100. She
also worked as a paralegal at a law firm while attending law
school. AR 101-102.
testified that she stopped working in September or October of
2013, after she experienced her first seizure and began
having dizzy spells while at school. AR 78-80. She
experienced seizures or dizzy spells two or three times a
week. AR 81. Rumzis testified that her episodes have been
less frequent or less severe since she moved back to South
Dakota from Arizona, attributing the improvement to the
colder climate here. AR 82. Additionally, she suffers from a
dizziness sensation every day. AR 83.
also testified that she has experienced physical pain in her
neck and her mid and lower back since September 2013. AR 85.
Sometimes she must lay down due to her neck pain. AR 86.
Maintaining stamina is one of her biggest issues, as she
testified to experiencing chronic fatigue. AR 88-89. Rumzis
also testified about headaches, which are less frequent now
that she lives in South Dakota, but she still has strong pain
behind her eyes. AR 92. She has a difficult time
concentrating or comprehending what she reads, and while she
still drives when she can, she has her daughter drive her
when she does not feel comfortable. AR 85, 90-91.
a lifetime musician, testified about short term memory loss
and how there are times when she tries to read music but the
music notes look completely foreign to her. AR 93-94. On good
days, she said she can drive, do dishes, and do laundry, but
on bad days, she spends the entire day in bed, needs help
getting dressed, and does not cook. AR 86-87. Rumzis
testified about how her pain has affected her socially, as
she used to be a “social butterfly” but now she
does not want to leave ...