United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
S. Ballou United States Magistrate Judge.
Janice S. (“Janice”) filed this action
challenging the final decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security (“Commissioner”) determining that she
was not disabled and therefore not eligible for disability
insurance benefits (“DIB”) under the Social
Security Act (“Act”). 42 U.S.C. §§
401-433. Specifically, Janice alleges that the ALJ improperly
discounted her credibility and failed to properly evaluate
her tremors. I conclude that substantial evidence supports
the Commissioner's decision on all grounds. Accordingly,
I RECOMMEND DENYING Janice's Motion for
Summary Judgment (Dkt. 13), and GRANTING the
Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 15).
Court limits its review to a determination of whether
substantial evidence supports the Commissioner's
conclusion that Janice failed to demonstrate that she was
disabled under the Act. Mastro v. Apfel, 270 F.3d 171,
176 (4th Cir. 2001). “Substantial evidence is such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion; it consists of more than a
mere scintilla of evidence but may be somewhat less than a
preponderance.” Craig v. Chater, 76 F.3d 585,
589 (4th Cir. 1996) (internal citations omitted). The final
decision of the Commissioner will be affirmed where
substantial evidence supports the decision. Hays v.
Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th Cir. 1990).
filed for DIB on June 6, 2013, claiming that her disability
began on February 13, 2013. R. 160-62. The Commissioner
denied Janice's application at the initial and
reconsideration levels of administrative review. R. 80, 91.
On December 2, 2015, ALJ H. Munday held a hearing to consider
Janice's disability claim. R. 30-69. Janice was
represented by an attorney at the hearing, which included
testimony from Janice and vocational expert Andrew V. Beale.
January 11, 2016, the ALJ entered his decision analyzing
Janice's claim under the familiar five-step process,
denying her claim for benefits. R. 14-24. The ALJ found that
Janice suffered from the severe impairments of tendonitis of
the right shoulder, degenerative disc disease of the cervical
spine, cervical radiculopathy, fibromyalgia, and chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease. R. 16. The ALJ found that
these impairments did not meet or medically equal a listed
impairment. R. 18. The ALJ further found that Janice had the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform
light work, except that she: (1) can never climb ladders,
ropes, and scaffolds, but can occasionally climb ramps and
stairs; (2) can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch,
and crawl; (3) can frequently reach overhead and handle with
the right upper extremity; and (4) can occasionally be
exposed to vibration, fumes, odors, dusts, gases, poor
ventilation, and hazards such as unprotected heights and
moving machinery. R. 18-19.
determined that Janice is capable of performing her past
relevant work as a bartender and a waitress. R. 22. The ALJ
also found that Janice could perform competitive work that
exists in significant numbers in the national economy, such
as sorter, recreation aide, and cashier. R. 23. Therefore,
the ALJ concluded that Janice is not disabled. R. 24.
requested that the Appeals Council review the ALJ's
decision, but the Appeals Council denied her request for
review. R. 1-3. This appeal followed.
argues that the ALJ improperly discounted her credibility and
failed to properly evaluate her tremors.
has a history of cervical spine degenerative disc disease,
and had an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion at ¶
5-7 in 1999.
saw Craig L. Bookout, M.D., on February 16, 2013, reporting
pain in her lower neck and shoulder blades. R. 251. Janice
explained that for the last two days, she experienced
numbness in her hands and right arm and throbbing in her
upper arm. Id. Janice had excellent grip strength
and sensation in both hands. R. 252. Dr. Bookout's final
impression was neck pain. R. 253. On February 21, 2013,
Janice saw Henry R. Ivey, Jr., M.D., for pain in her right
arm without tingling or numbness. R. 267. Dr. Ivey diagnosed
tendinitis, and prescribed steroid medication. R. 266. Dr.
Ivey recommended moist heat and application of arthritis
cream three times a day. Id. Dr. Ivey noted that
Janice's degenerative disc disease was stable.
saw Lauren E. Goater-Mathis, P.A., on March 6, 2013 for neck
pain radiating into her right shoulder, right arm, and right
elbow. R. 279. On examination, Janice was neurologically
intact with normal reflexes, gait, and strength in all major
muscle groups. Id. Ms. Goater-Mathis counseled
Janice to return to physical therapy and to stop smoking, and
prescribed Voltaren, Tylenol, and Flexeril. Id. Ms.
Goater-Mathis gave Janice a work excuse until April 8, 2013.
R. 281. Janice had a cervical MRI which revealed
“[m]oderately severe degenerative disc disease at
¶ 4-C5 with a broad disc osteophyte complex which causes
slight effacement of the ventral spinal cord as it crosses
this level.” R. 272.
March 18, 2013, Janice saw Virginia Capps, P.T., and Lauren
Goada, PA-C, at Professional Therapies of Roanoke for a
physical therapy consultation. R. 285. Janice was diagnosed
with cervical radiculopathy with a fair rehabilitation
potential. Id. Janice performed physical therapy and
was started on a home exercise program. Id. Janice
tolerated physical therapy well without ...