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Martin v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

April 23, 2014

WAYNE MARTIN, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION (Overruling Objections to and Adopting Report and Recommendation)

HENRY E. HUDSON, District Judge.

This is an action challenging the Social Security Administration's ("SSA") denial of Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") to Plaintiff Wayne Martin. The matter is presently before the Court on the Report and Recommendation ("R&R" (ECF No. 12)) filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 636(b)(1) by the Honorable David J. Novak, United States Magistrate Judge ("Magistrate Judge"), on January 16, 2014. The Magistrate Judge's R&R addresses the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment and recommends the Court affirm SSA's decision. Wayne Martin ("Plaintiff") has filed objections to the R&R. ("Plaintiffs Objs." (ECF No. 13)). The Court will dispense with oral argument because the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in the materials before the Court, and argument would not aid the decisional process.

For the reasons set forth herein, Plaintiff's objections will be overruled and the R&R will be adopted as the opinion of this Court. Accordingly, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted; Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment will be denied; and the decision of the Commissioner will be affirmed.

I. BACKGROUND[1]

A. Vocational History

Prior to injuring his back, Plaintiff worked as a supervisor at a juvenile detention center for approximately fifteen years. (R. at 30-31.) He attended college, but did not receive a degree. (R. at 29.)

B. Medical History

On April 20, 2005, Plaintiff injured his back while on the job at the juvenile detention center. (R. at 379, 518.) His injury worsened later in 2005 when an inmate "came across the desk on top of [him]" during the intake procedure. (R. at 518.)

From April 2005 to August 2007, Plaintiff worked "on and off modified duty." (R. at 262.) In October 2005, an MRI revealed postercentral protrusion of disc with slight left posterior paracentral asymmetry, degenerative disc disease, annular bulging and facet anthropathy, with no disc herniation or stenosis. (R. at 394.) An August 2007 MRI showed similar results. (R. at 392.)

Plaintiff went on modified duty in August 2007 with the intent to undergo back surgery. (R. at 262.) Instead, Plaintiff underwent physical therapy and told Dr. Daniel Martin that he was not ready for surgery. (R. at 311, 323.) Plaintiff continued to see Dr. Martin, who administered steroid injections, encouraged plaintiff to have surgery, and restricted Plaintiff's work to sedentary duty for four hours a day. (R. at 321, 363.)

Upon Dr. Martin's referral, Plaintiff visited Dr. Claiborne Irby several times. (R. at 313-15.) Dr. Irby evaluated Plaintiff and encouraged surgery, stating that he had no other options to offer Plaintiff. After several more visits, Plaintiff indicated he was not interested in surgery and instead would be filing for Social Security. Dr. Irby referred him to Dr. Charles Bonner for chronic pain management. (R. at 303.)

Dr. Bonner evaluated Plaintiff on April 27, 2010 and reported normal gait and station, a negative straight leg raise ("SLR"), and no focal weakness, though a generalized weakness for Plaintiff's age and condition.[2] (R. at 380.) Dr. Bonner treated Plaintiff with a fitness program, nutrition plan, and medication.[3] (R. at 380.) Throughout numerous visits between September 2010 and January 2011, Plaintiffs reported pain and function varied: sometimes he felt worse than the last visit, sometimes better, and often the same. (R &R at 9.)

Amanda Gallagher, M.S., P.T. C.W.C.E., completed a Functional Capacity Evaluation ("FCE") in January of 2009. (R. at 517.) After Plaintiffs completion of balance and strength tests in addition to a multitude of other activities, Ms. Gallagher reported that Plaintiff demonstrated the ability to perform medium levels of work with certain reasonable restrictions. (R. at 520-34, 542.) Indicating some inconsistencies in Plaintiffs subjective pain reports and the tests, Ms. Gallagher opined that Plaintiff generally could do more than he stated or perceived. (R. at 542.) In her assessment, Plaintiff may have been capable of returning to his previous position in a full-time capacity without significant accommodations. (R. at 542.)

After a medical consultation with Plaintiff on June 29, 2010, Dr. Nancy Powell opined that Plaintiff could stand and/or walk for six hours with frequent ...


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