Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Hairston v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division

September 13, 2017

Anthony Hairston, Plaintiff,
v.
Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER AFFIRMING COMMISSIONER'S DECISION

          Patricia D. Barksdale, United States Magistrate Judge

         This is an action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to review a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying Anthony Hairston's claim for disability insurance benefits. He seeks reversal, Doc. 18; the Commissioner, affirmance, Doc. 23. He complains the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) incorrectly found a cane was neither prescribed nor medically necessary and as a result erroneously failed to include a related residual-functional-capacity limitation in the hypothetical to the vocational expert. Doc. 18 at 7-9.

         Background

         Hairston was born in 1969. Tr. 166, 171. He is a high-school graduate. Tr. 31-32. He has worked as a cook, sorter, banquet supervisor, and forklift operator. Tr. 171. He alleges he became disabled and stopped working in June 2011, listing as impairments injuries to his neck, back, shoulder, and arm from a work-related accident, arthritis and pain in his lumbar spine, herniated nucleus pulposus in his cervical spine, carpal tunnel syndrome, and high blood pressure. Tr. 170. He is insured through 2016. Tr. 166. He proceeded through the administrative process, failing at each level. Tr. 1-4, 10-18, 89-91, 98-100. This case followed.

         Evidence[1]

         Hairston settled a worker's compensation claim resulting from the work-related accident. Tr. 163, 164.

         A handwritten clinic note by Brandon Kambach, M.D., in September 2011 lists the word “cane” under a section titled “Plan of Care.” Tr. 532. Typed treatment notes from that day do not mention a cane. Tr. 521-23. In January 2012, David Doward, M.D., observed Hairston walked with “a slow, but stable gait.” Tr. 500.

         On a “Florida Workers' Compensation Uniform Treatment/Status Reporting Form” completed in February 2012, Dr. Kambach marked a box next to “DME [durable medical equipment] or Medical Supplies” and wrote, “CANE.” Tr. 857. The box was in a section titled, “MANAGEMENT TREATMENT PLAN, ” that included the statements, “The following proposed, subsequent clinical service(s) is/are deemed medically necessary, ” and “THIS IS A PROVIDER'S WRITTEN REQUEST FOR INSURER AUTHORIZATION OF TREATMENT OR SERVICES.” Tr. 857. On a treatment note from that day, Dr. Kambach noted he gave Hairston “a prescription for a cane per his request.” Tr. 482.

         In March 2012, Hairston participated in a functional capacity evaluation. Tr. 450-56. The report states Hairston “performed with self[-]limited effort and with a high pain focus, ” he could perform “a minimum” of light work, he could stand frequently or continuously, he could walk occasionally, and he “demonstrated self[-]limited gait testing with cane ambulation preferred.” Tr. 450-51, 456.

         On a worker's compensation form signed by Dr. Kambach in July 2012, Dr. Kambach did not check the box next to “DME or Medical Supplies” and left the space next to it blank. Tr. 933.

         In March 2013, Mark Hoffman, M.D., observed Hairston reported using a cane since 2011 and had come to the appointment with a cane but could walk with “a slight antalgic gait without his cane.” Tr. 935, 937-38. That same month, based on a recent functional capacity evaluation, Dr. Kambach opined Hairston could frequently sit and occasionally stand and walk. Tr. 972.

         In April 2013, Dr. Hoffman observed Hairston arrived with a cane but “was able to walk normally without” it. Tr. 934. In July 2013, he observed Hairston again had a cane but walked without it “slowly with an antalgic gait.” Tr. 933. In October 2013, he observed Hairston walked “with a mild antalgic gait without his cane that he uses most of the time.” Tr. 932. In January 2014, he observed Hairston brought a cane with him to the appointment but was able to walk without the cane “with a slow but stable gait.” Tr. 1030.

         At a May 2014 hearing before the ALJ, Hairston testified in pertinent part as follows. He can sit for about 15 or 20 minutes, he can stand for about 3 to 5 minutes, he can walk for about 5 to 10 minutes, and he has trouble climbing stairs. Tr. 42-43. On an ordinary day, his wife helps him out of bed, he does at-home physical therapy for about 20 minutes, and he exercises by walking on the street for about 20 minutes. Tr. 50. He uses a chair in the shower, and his wife helps him get dressed. Tr. 51. He makes simple meals, puts dishes in the dishwasher, and puts clothes in a washer and dryer. Tr. 52. He and his wife have a ministry, and he goes to church twice a week. Tr. 53. He has used a cane since 2011. Tr. 56. Sometime at the beginning of 2012, Dr. Doward prescribed a cane. Tr. 44-47. He walks with a limp and uses the cane every day. Tr. 56.

         A vocational expert testified that Hairston had past relevant work as an industrial truck operator.[2] The ALJ then posed several hypotheticals to the vocational expert. Tr. 60-66. In the first hypothetical, the ALJ asked the vocational expert to

assume an individual of the same age, education, and work experience as the claimant. This individual would have the following limitations. First, limited to work at the light exertional level defined as lifting up to 20 pounds occasionally, lifting and carrying up to 10 pounds frequently; standing and walking for about six hours; and sitting for up to six hours in a normal work day with normal breaks. In addition, limited to no climbing of ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; limited to-let's see, here. Limited to occasional climbing of ramps or stairs; occasional balancing, occasional stooping, occasional kneeling, occasional crouching, and limited to no crawling. Also, limited to frequent overhead reaching with the left, upper extremity. Also, limited to frequent fingering of objects defined as gross manipulation, and that would also be with the left, upper extremity. In addition, this would be for … right-hand dominant individual.

Tr. 61-62. The vocational expert opined the hypothetical individual could not work as an industrial truck driver but could work as a short-order clerk, routing clerk, and cashier II. Tr. 62.

         In the second hypothetical, the ALJ asked the vocational expert to

assume … this time at the sedentary exertional level, defined as lifting up to 10 pounds occasionally, standing and walking for about two hours, and sitting for up to six hours in an eight-hour work day with normal breaks. In addition, limited to no climbing of ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. Once again, limited to occasional climbing of ramps or stairs, occasional balancing, occasional stooping, occasional kneeling, occasional crouching, and no crawling. … [T]his time limited to occasional overhead reaching bilaterally. Limited, once again, to frequent handling of objects defined as gross manipulation with the left, upper extremity. And limited to frequent fingering of objects defined as fine manipulation with the left, upper extremity. Once again, this is for right-hand dominant individual. And also, this time, with us it/stand [sic] option defined as allowing a person to sit or stand alternatively at will, provided such a person is [within] employer tolerances for off task behavior.

Tr. 64. The vocational expert opined the hypothetical individual could work as an addresser, document preparer, and stuffer, and specified the number of such jobs available in the national economy. Tr. 64.

         Hairston's counsel asked the vocational expert if the hypothetical individual could work in those jobs if also limited with the left hand to occasional simple grasping and fine manipulation. Tr. 66. The vocational expert opined the hypothetical individual could not. Tr. 66.

         ALJ's Decision

         At step one, [3] the ALJ found Hairston has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since his alleged onset date (June 2011). Tr. 12.

         At step two, the ALJ found Hairston suffers from severe impairments of degenerative disc disease, “left carpal tunnel release surgery, ” hypertension, and post-laminectomy syndrome. Tr. 12.

         At step three, the ALJ found Hairston's impairments, individually or in combination, do not meet or medically equal the severity of any Listing of Impairments, 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, App'x 1. Tr. 12.

         The ALJ found Hairston has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.