United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Jasper Division
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Charles Joseph Wilson (“Plaintiff”) brings this
action pursuant to Sections 205(g) and 1631(c)(3) of the
Social Security Act (the “Act”), seeking review
of the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) denying his claims for
disability and disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”). See 42 U.S.C. §§
405(g) & 1383(c). Based on the court's review of the
record and the briefs submitted by the parties, the court
finds that the decision of the Commissioner is due to be
17, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for Title II period
of disability and DIB, as well as an application for Title
XVI supplemental security income (“SSI”). (Tr.
184, 188, 212). Plaintiff claimed in these applications that
his disability began on May 14, 2013. (Tr. 184, 188, 212).
Both applications were initially denied on June 19, 2013.
(Tr. 128, 133). On July 10, 2013, Plaintiff submitted a
written request for a hearing. (Tr. 140, 142). On July 21,
2014, Plaintiff, a medical expert, and a vocational expert
testified before Administrative Law Judge Michael L.
Brownfield (the “ALJ”). (Tr. 56). On January 9,
2015, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision, determining
that because Plaintiff could perform jobs existing in the
national economy, he was not disabled through the date of the
decision, and thus not eligible for benefits. (Tr. 66-67).
Subsequently, on June 8, 2016, the Appeals Council declined
Plaintiff's request for review. (Tr. 1-4). With
administrative appeals exhausted, the ALJ's decision
became final and subject to this court's appellate
was forty-nine years old at the time of the ALJ's
decision. (Tr. 68). He lives with his wife and three year-old
daughter in Dora, Alabama, and has two other adult children
who live in Illinois. (Tr. 78-79). Plaintiff received a tenth
grade education, including some special education, and stated
that he received his “high school diploma”
through a program that he found “[o]ut of a puzzle
book, ” though it was not accepted by the military.
(Tr. 80). Plaintiff found employment as a tank
cleaner, production line assembler, warehouse worker, and
delivery driver. (Tr. 97). Plaintiff was last insured on
December 31, 2016 and was last employed in a job banding
steel tubes at Independent Tubes in May 2012. (Tr. 86, 213,
237). However, Plaintiff only worked for four days before
being terminated due to injuries to his right hand that
required a brace. (Tr. 86).
Plaintiff's Testimony on His Ailments
last worked on May 23, 2012, and appears to have been
unemployed since that time. (Tr. 86, 217). He claims that he
has not been able to work because of disability since May 14,
2013, a date that coincides with his disability application.
(Tr. 212-13). Plaintiff claims to suffer from various
ailments, including lower back issues, carpal tunnel
syndrome, diabetes, and a learning disability.
(Id.). Plaintiff has recounted problems with his
back, neck, and knees, particularly his left knee. (Tr. 87).
During the ALJ hearing, he claimed that he had pain in his
lower back that shot down his leg, “like somebody was
stabbing [him] with a knife in [his] thigh.”
(Id.). Furthermore, he testified that turning his
head from side to side bothered his neck due to a nerve
issue. (Id.). He recounted that his knee feels like
“somebody [was] cutting … my ligaments with a
knife, ” and that occasionally it filled with fluid and
needed to be drained. (Tr. 88). Overall, Plaintiff rated his
pain as eight on a ten point scale. (Id.). Plaintiff
stated that his right arm and left knee get swollen often.
(Tr. 91). His doctor had been unable to prescribe pain pills,
and instead recommended that he take over the counter pain
medication. (Tr. 88-89).
testified that he has issues stooping and tying his shoes.
(Tr. 89). Additionally, his right hand often gets cold and
numb, making it difficult for him to hold things or drive.
(Id.). Although he has been diagnosed with carpal
tunnel syndrome, he testified that he was “afraid of
surgery” to treat it. (Id.). He also claims
that he is unable to stand in one place for more than five or
ten minutes and cannot sit for prolonged periods without
moving around a bit. (Tr. 89-90). Plaintiff stated that his
wife does pretty much everything around the house, and,
though he tries to help out, he spends most of the day in his
recliner. (Tr. 90). Plaintiff has tried to mow his small
lawn, but claims that it takes him two or three days to
complete mowing because he does not “want to try to
overdo it.” (Tr. 92). When walking, Plaintiff sometimes
experiences a shooting pain in his lower back, especially
when he put pressure on the back of his heels. (Tr. 90). He
also states that he has trouble sleeping at night because of
restlessness and pain. (Tr. 90-91). Plaintiff asserts that
his diabetes causes him to get “weak” and
“fainty.” (Tr. 91).
Plaintiff's Medical History
April 17, 2013, Dr. Scott Boswell of Boswell Family Medicine
performed nerve conduction testing on Plaintiff which showed
very severe pathology in the right radial nerve, mild
pathology in the left radial nerve lateral branch, marked
pathology in the right ulnar nerve, moderate pathology in the
bilateral radial nerve medial branch, and mild pathology in
the left first thoracic nerve. (Tr. 323). This testing also
revealed mild irritation in the femoral cutaneous nerve and
in the saphenous nerve, moderate pathology in the peroneal
nerve, and marked pathology in the bilateral sural nerve.
(Tr. 327). Dr. Boswell noted that the test results indicated
cervical plexopathy and lumbosacral plexopathy, both without
motor deficit. (Tr. 323, 327).
3, 2013, Dr. Steven Parris conducted MRI imaging of the
lumbar spine which showed vertebral body heights and marrow
signal to be well-maintained throughout Plaintiff's
lumbar spine with overall alignment. (Tr. 302). The MRI
showed degenerative dessication and mild annular bulging of
the L4-5 disc, along with mild facet arthropathy and moderate
foraminal narrowing. (Id.). The MRI also indicated a
degenerative mildly bulging disc at ¶ 4-5.
(Id.). Furthermore, MRI imaging of the cervical
spine showed vertebral body heights, marrow signal, and
overall alignment to be well-maintained in Plaintiff's
cervical spine. (Tr. 303). Mild bilateral unconvertebral
joint hypertrophy was found at discs C3-4, C4-5, and C5-6,
but there was no evidence of disc herniation or significant
spinal or foraminal stenosis. (Tr. 303, 311).
14, 2013, Dr. Boswell conducted a follow-up on
Plaintiff's cervical and lumbar pain. (Tr. 307-09). Dr.
Boswell mentioned that MRI results showed little if any
pathology. (Tr. 307). Plaintiff had no headaches,
paresthesias, confusion, or gait instability. (Id.).
His blood pressure was 142/88. (Tr. 308). His spine was
normal without deformity or tenderness. (Id.). He
had a normal range of motion in his back, and normal
symmetry, tone, strength, and range of motion in his
musculoskeletal system (Id.). He had no effusions,
instability, tenderness to palpation, or focal deficits, and
his gait was within normal limits. (Id.).
3, 2013, an echocardiogram showed no significant abnormality
and a carotid duplex ultrasound was normal. (Tr. 384-85). On
January 10, 2014, an MRI of Plaintiff's left knee showed
a small radial tear along the posterior horn of the lateral
meniscus, small effusion, and mild osteoarthritic change.
(Tr. 398). On January 15, 2014, Plaintiff's lungs were
clear to auscultation and percussion, his left knee had a
passive full range of motion, and his gait was within normal
limits. (Tr. 438). On February 24, 2014, Plaintiff complained
of constant knee pain and was seen by Dr. Edward Bromberg.
(Tr. 399-401). He described the pain as moderate, yet Dr.
Bromberg noted a normal neurovascular in the lower left
extremity. (Tr. 399-400). On March 10, 2014, Plaintiff was
given a follow-up evaluation on his knee pain, again noted to
be mild in severity. (Tr. 436-39).
9, 2014, Plaintiff was evaluated by Dr. Alan Blotcky, a
psychologist, after complaining of back pain, left leg pain,
and depression. (Tr. 368-70). Plaintiff demonstrated logical
and orderly thinking, with memory functioning intact,
judgment grossly intact, abstract thinking limited, and
insight weak. (Tr. 369). He scored 72 on the full-scale
Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS-IV) and 60 on a
global assessment of functioning (GAF) test. (Tr. 369-70).
Dr. Blotcky diagnosed Plaintiff with a depressive disorder
(Tr. 370), and stated that while Plaintiff was able to manage
his financial affairs independently, his intellectual