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Donovan v. Colvin

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

May 19, 2015

CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.


BERT W. MILLING, Jr., Magistrate Judge.

In this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), Plaintiff seeks judicial review of an adverse social security ruling which denied a claim for disability insurance benefits (Docs. 1, 13). The action was referred for report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). Oral argument was heard on May 18, 2015 (Doc. 18). After considering the administrative record, the memoranda of the parties, and oral argument, it is RECOMMENDED that the decision of the Commissioner be affirmed, that this action be dismissed, and that judgment be entered in favor of Defendant Michael J. Astrue and against Plaintiff Timothy P. Donovan, Jr. on all claims.

This Court may not reweigh the evidence or substitute its judgment for that of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Bloodsworth v. Heckler, 703 F.2d 1233, 1239 (11th Cir. 1983), a decision that that be supported by substantial evidence. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971). Substantial evidence requires "that the decision under review be supported by evidence sufficient to justify a reasoning mind in accepting it; it is more than a scintilla, but less than a preponderance." Brady v. Heckler, 724 F.2d 914, 918 (11th Cir. 1984), quoting Jones v. Schweiker, 551 F.Supp. 205 (D. Md. 1982).

The Plaintiff filed a protective application for disability benefits on December 29, 2010, alleging his disability began on June 1, 2006 and is due to arthritis, a bladder stone, and a heart condition (Doc. 13; Tr. 8, 116-22).

After hearing testimony from Plaintiff and a Vocational Expert, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) determined that although Donovan could not perform his past work, there were specific medium-exertion jobs that he could do (Tr. 8-18). Plaintiff requested review of the hearing decision (Tr. 4) by the Appeals Council, but it was denied (Tr. 1-3).

Plaintiff claims that the opinion of the ALJ is not supported by substantial evidence. Specifically, Donovan alleges that: (1) The ALJ did not properly consider his pain; and (2) he can no longer work (Doc. 13). Defendant has responded to-and denies-these claims (Doc. 14). The relevant evidence of record follows.[1]

On October 24, 2006, Dr. Greer Megginson, Urologist, found that Donovan had a large left inguinal hernia and a smaller one on the right (Tr. 180). Nine days later, an x-ray revealed a bladder stone; Megginson recommended a cystoscope for the stone and a surgeon for the hernias (Tr. 179). Plaintiff resisted both suggestions, but said that he would think about them.

On December 20, the IMC Northside Clinic refilled Donovan's Inderal[2] prescription (Tr. 184).

On March 9, 2009, Plaintiff went to Saraland Family Practice in search of a new doctor and an Inderal prescription (Tr. 187). A week later, he complained of headaches and flu-like symptoms ( id. ).

On March 11, Dr. Hercules Panayiotou noted an abnormal electrocardiogram, suggesting possible ischemia, renal insufficiency, and hypertension (Tr. 295-97). A follow-up echocardiogram showed mild asymmetric septal left ventricular hypertrophy, consistent with coronary artery disease and diastolic dysfunction; also, there was mild dilation of the left atrium and inferior vena cava, aortic sclerosis with mild insufficiency, mild mitral, pulmonic, and tricuspid insufficiency, and mild pulmonary hypertension (Tr. 328). Further tests reported probable moderate-to-mild proximal left renal artery stenosis (Tr. 329-30); a treadmill stress test caused moderate dyspnea and increased hypertension, suggesting ischemia without chest pain (Tr. 292, 332).

On March 24, 2009, Dr. Randy Dotson noted that a chest x-ray showed pleural plaquing over the left hemidiaphragm; Plaintiff suggested it may be related to two years of working with asbestos (Tr. 271).

On April 14, Dr. Panayiotou summarized Donovan's examination results, noting his refusal to take several tests (a GXT cardiolite and chest CT); Plaintiff had also failed to begin newly-prescribed medication (Tr. 291-93). Though the Doctor explained his proposed medical procedures and regimen, Donovan said he would think more about it.

On October 28, blood pressure medication was prescribed; the record shows recurrent refills for hypertension and headaches over the next thirty months (Tr. 186, 195).

On December 30, a CT scan demonstrated a slightly enlarged bladder and a growing bladder stone, right kidney atrophy, a large, stable hernia on the left, and bladder ...

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