United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
BONNIE E. WHITE, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Bonnie E. White (“Plaintiff” or
“White”) brings this action pursuant to Section
205(g) of the Social Security Act (the “Act”),
seeking review of the decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security (the “Commissioner”) denying her claims
for supplemental security income (“SSI”).
See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). 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 affirmed.
February 10, 2014, Plaintiff protectively filed an
application for SSI, alleging a disability onset date of
January 5, 2011. (Tr. 42, 88-89, 162-64, 176). She later
amended her alleged disability onset date to the date she
filed her application, February 10, 2014. (Tr. 59-60, 88).
Plaintiff's initial application was denied by the Social
Security Administration (“SSA”) on May 30, 2014.
(Tr. 88-101). After the denial, Plaintiff requested a hearing
before an Administrative Law Judge (the “ALJ”).
(Tr. 57-82, 110-12). That hearing was held in front of ALJ
Perry Martin on February 10, 2016. (Tr. 57-82, 126-130, 149).
In his decision dated April 20, 2016, the ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff has not been under a disability, as defined by the
Act, since February 10, 2014. (Tr. 52). The Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review on February 3,
2017. (Tr. 1-7). That denial was the final decision of the
Commissioner, and is therefore a proper subject for this
court's appellate review.
was born on December 17, 1958 and was 55 years old on the
date of her alleged disability onset. (Tr. 39, 64, 89, 163,
176). She alleges disability due to migraines, bulging discs,
a pinched nerve, and irritable bowel syndrome
(“IBS”). (Tr. 179). Plaintiff has a GED and last
worked for Spring Air Cleaners sorting and delivering
clothes. (Tr. 65). She was let go from that job in September
2007 and has not worked since. (Tr. 66, 179).
physician, Dr. Larry Alford with Norwood Clinic, began
treating her for headaches on January 18, 2010. (Tr. 282).
Plaintiff complained of headaches with photophobia, but
denied nausea, vomiting, and phonophobia. (Id.). She
described the headaches as “bitemporal” and
“throbbing” and indicated they were brought on by
stress. (Id.). She reported that her last headache
had occurred the day before her meeting with Dr. Alford.
(Id.). Plaintiff was instructed to follow up with
neurology. (Tr. 283).
a year later, on November 3, 2010, Plaintiff returned to the
Norwood Clinic, complaining of headaches with nausea,
photophobia, and phonophobia but no vomiting. (Tr. 279). She
again described the headaches as “bitemporal” and
“throbbing, ” with her last headache occurring
the day of her meeting with the doctor. (Id.). Dr.
Grinder noted a long history of migraines and that various
medications had provided no relief. (Id.). Dr.
Grinder prescribed “IM or SQ injection, ”
Toradol, and an increased dose of Phenergan. (Tr. 280).
returned to the doctor in January 2011 complaining of
diarrhea. (Tr. 276). She denied nausea and vomiting, but
reported that her symptoms had been present for months, with
the pain worse with meals. (Id.). Plaintiff was
diagnosed with IBS and anxiety disorder. (Tr. 278).
March 2011 Plaintiff complained of abdominal pain at a visit
with Dr. Alford. (Tr. 271). Dr. Alford noted that the
“[p]ain is worse with meals and movement. Pain appears
better with rest. Past history for abdominal pain shows
history of IBS. Ineffective treatments include the following
antacids. Prior diagnostic testing to date for abdominal pain
includes colonoscopy.” (Id.). Plaintiff was
diagnosed with a recurrent UTI. (Tr. 273).
January 2012, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Alford for a
six-month checkup. (Tr. 263). She complained of bitemporal
headaches without nausea or vomiting. (Id.).
Plaintiff also complained of right neck and shoulder pain she
described as “dull.” (Id.). Dr. Alford
made no specific diagnosis but discussed exercises and use of
hot and cold therapy and medication to treat the pain. (Tr.
265). He noted decreased range of motion in the neck and the
cervical spine. (Tr. 264-65). He once again referred
Plaintiff to neurology for evaluation of the headaches. (Tr.
2012, Plaintiff again complained of bitemporal headaches to
Dr. Alford, this time with nausea, but denied vomiting,
photophobia, and phonophobia. (Tr. 260). Plaintiff reported
her last headache had occurred a few days prior and described
the pain as throbbing and sharp. (Id.). On physical
exam, Dr. Alford noted decreased range of motion in her neck
and the cervical spine. (Tr. 261). Plaintiff was told to
follow up with neurology. (Tr. 262). In November 2012,
Plaintiff saw Dr. Alford again for six-month checkup and
complained of bitemporal headaches with throbbing pain yet
without nausea or vomiting. (Tr. 256). She reported her last
headache had occurred the day before, but Dr. Alford noted
that Botox therapy at the neurologist was working. (Tr. 256,
259). On physical exam, Dr. Alford noted decreased range of
motion of the cervical spine. (Tr. 258).
March 31, 2013, Plaintiff completed a Headache Questionnaire
for the disability office and stated severe headaches occur
“every day two-three times a day” lasting
“about 2-3 hours” and precipitated by stress.
2013, Plaintiff saw Dr. Alford again complaining of dull,
sharp headaches without nausea or vomiting. (Tr. 251). She
reported her last headache occurred that day. (Id.).
Dr. Alford noted that effective treatment for the headaches
included Maxalt and Botox injections, and that Plaintiff was
being followed by Dr. Newton, a neurologist. (Id.).
During the same visit, Plaintiff complained of lower back
pain, “radiating to right buttock, radiating to right
knee, and radiating to right foot … The pain is
described as sharp and constant.” (Id.). She
claimed to have had constant pain for the previous two years
that had gotten progressively worse, with pain currently at
¶ 8/10. (Id.). Upon physical exam, Dr. Alford
noted decreased range of motion in the neck and referred
Plaintiff to physical therapy. (Tr. 253-54).
January 27, 2014, Plaintiff saw Dr. Newton who noted that
Plaintiff “failed to follow up as scheduled”
after Botox treatment was given for migraines. (Tr. 294).
Plaintiff told Dr. Newton that she did not want to stay on
the Botox injections and that her current medication for
headaches was Maxalt as needed. (Id.). “She
says [the Maxalt] works good, but still has about six
headaches per month.” (Id.). Dr. Newton
prescribed Topamax in addition to Maxalt to treat the
migraines. (Id.). Dr. Newton wanted to see Plaintiff
back in one month to find an effective dose of Topamax.
February 2014, Plaintiff saw Dr. Smith at Adamsville Family
Medicine to establish care as a new patient and for recheck
of chronic conditions. (Tr. 297). She reported suffering from
migraines, anxiety and depression, back and chest pain, and
irritable bowel. (Id.). Dr. Smith described her
current conditions as generally stable except for the back
and chest pain. (Id.). Upon examination of
Plaintiff's joints and neck, Dr. Smith noted no
abnormalities. (Tr. 298).
after February 2014, Plaintiff completed a disability report
appeal form and stated that since her last report on February
26, 2014, “all of my conditions are worse.” (Tr.
219). She noted that she has “trouble walking due to
back pain. I have to alternate sitting and standing. I get
migraines everyday.” (Id.). She also noted
that “I do not socialize often. I get migraines almost
everyday and I have to stay in the bedroom in the dark, I