United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Keith Ball UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
cause is before the Court regarding the appeal by Rosie Marie
Lewis of the Commissioner of Social Security's final
decision denying Lewis's application for a period of
disability, Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”), and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”). In rendering this Memorandum Opinion and
Order, the Court has carefully reviewed the Administrative
Record  regarding Lewis's claims (including the
administrative decision, the medical records, and a
transcript of the hearing before the Administrative Law Judge
("ALJ")), Plaintiff's Motion for Summary
Judgment , Memorandum Brief , Defendant's Motion
to Affirm Commissioner's Decision , Memorandum Brief
, and Plaintiff's Rebuttal . The parties have
consented to proceed before the undersigned United States
Magistrate Judge, and the District Judge has entered an Order
of Reference . 28 U.S.C. § 636(c); Fed.R.Civ.P. 73.
reasons discussed in this Memorandum Opinion and Order, the
undersigned finds that the Commissioner's decision should
be affirmed. Accordingly, the Motion to Affirm  is
granted, and Plaintiff's Motion  is hereby denied.
filed her application for a period of disability, DIB, and
SSI on September 20, 2012, and alleged a disability onset
date of April 15, 2011, when she was thirty-nine years of
age.  at 63, 81, 154-162, 174. Lewis's earning record
demonstrated that she had acquired sufficient quarters of
coverage to remain insured through March 31, 2015.
Id. at 174.
was born on April 8, 1972, and she was forty-two years of age
on the date she was last insured. Id. at 23. Thus,
she was considered a “younger person” under the
regulations. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c). Lewis completed
high school with a certificate of attendance for completing a
special education curriculum.  at 36, 373. In the fifteen
years leading up to her disability onset date, Lewis had been
employed as a poultry line operator, poultry grader, and box
assembler. Id. at 54. The poultry line operator is
classified as light, unskilled work with specific vocational
preparation (“SVP”) of 2. Id. The
poultry grader is classified as light, semiskilled work with
an SVP of 3. Id. And the box assembler is classified
as light, unskilled work carrying an SVP of 2. Id.
She had worked since 1995 in the chicken processing industry.
Id. at 180.
request for disability, Lewis alleged that she is disabled
and stopped working due to several conditions: osteoporosis
in left leg, high blood pressure, and a bad case of arthritis
in her left leg. Id. at 179. In her application, she
also stated that she was five feet, one inches tall and
weighed one hundred seventy pounds. Id. The Court
observes that Lewis did not assert that borderline
intellectual functioning was a disabling condition in her
application for benefits. Id.
Social Security Administration denied Lewis's application
initially and upon reconsideration. Id. at 63-70,
72-79, 81-88, 89-96. Lewis requested a hearing, which was
held on June 16, 2014, via video, with Lewis, who was
represented by counsel, appearing in Meridian, Mississippi,
and the ALJ presiding from Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Id. at 27. On July 11, 2014, the ALJ issued a
decision finding that Lewis was not disabled. Id. at
12-21. The Appeals Council denied her request for review on
September 14, 2015, id. at 1, and this appeal
Court has determined that a detailed recitation of the
medical records is not necessary because the parties
summarized Lewis's records in their briefs, and the ALJ
provided thorough summaries in her decision. Nevertheless, a
review of the observations and evaluations of certain
examiners will aid in the consideration of this case.
November 14, 2012, Dr. Anthony Fouts conducted a consultative
medical examination of Lewis. Id. at 357-362. At the
examination, Dr. Fouts documented that Lewis was sixty-four
inches tall and weighed one hundred ninety-five pounds, with
a BMI of 33.5. The doctor commented that she had high blood
pressure. Id. at 360. Dr. Fouts found that Lewis had a
full range of motion in her shoulders, elbows, wrists, and
hands. Id. at 360. Her fine and gross manipulation
were intact, and her grip strength was 5/5. Id.
Lewis had a full range of motion in her right hip, knee, and
ankle without joint effusion or joint instability.
Id. As to her left lower extremity, Dr. Fouts found
full range of motion of her left hip, knee, and ankle, with
no joint instability or joint effusion. Id. He
commented that her left calf is about 1½ inches
smaller in diameter than the right calf, with depressed scars
along the shin, which was consistent with her history of a
childhood injury to her left leg. Id. at 359-360. He
commented that the pulses in her left foot were diminished,
but he could feel them, and that there were no signs of
vascular insufficiency in the left foot or left leg.
Id. at 360. He also noted that her gait was normal,
she did not require a “balance device, ” and she
could “walk for about a half mile.” Id.
at 359-360. Dr. Fouts concluded that she “would seem to
have a good physical basis for a chronic pain syndrome of the
left lower extremity, ” and that her blood pressure was
“markedly elevated.” Id. at 360. He also
concluded that Lewis's “EKG does meet criteria for
left ventricular hypertrophy which could be viewed as
endorgan damage for her high blood pressure.”
attorney arranged for her to see Patricia M. Sandusky, Ph.D.,
for a psychological evaluation on May 14, 2014. Id.
at 375-378. Dr. Sandusky observed that Lewis completed the
twelfth grade in a special education program and noted that
she had worked at least fifteen years in the poultry
industry. Id. at 375. Dr. Sandusky commented that
Lewis indicated that she could bathe, provide meals, engage
in basic housekeeping, and care for her young child.
Id. at 376. She commented that Lewis had three
children, ages two, fifteen, and twenty-two at the time of
the examination. Id. Dr. Sandusky commented that
Lewis's affect was euthymic, she showed no indication or
gave no report of significant depression, and she gave no
indication of anxiety. Id.
Sandusky administered the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale,
IV Edition, to Lewis. Id. at 376-377. Lewis obtained
a full scale IQ of 72, which the psychologist found to be in
the 3rd percentile and within the borderline
range. Id. at 377. She commented that “there
was significant variability in composite scores, ranging from
a low of 71 in processing speed to a high of 83 in working
memory.” Id. Her diagnostic impression was
“Borderline Intellectual Functioning” and
“Impaired left leg (by report).” Id. The
psychologist concluded, as follows:
Based on intellectual functioning, Ms. Lewis would have much
difficulty functioning in a work environment that did not
involve some type of repetitive motion or manual labor. If
her physical condition is considered prohibitive of this,
taken together, these conditions may reflect a disability
prohibiting her from functioning in a work environment. Ms.
Lewis is considered capable of handling funds in her own best
interest if so assigned.
Id. at 378.
HEARING AND DECISION
July 11, 2014, decision, the ALJ evaluated Lewis's
impairments using the familiar sequential evaluation
process and found that she has the severe
impairments of obesity; left lower extremity osteoarthrosis;
history of osteomyelitis and/or osteochondral defect; and
essential hypertension. Id. at 14. The ALJ
determined that Lewis's left ventricular hypertrophy,
peripheral vascular disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, and
borderline intellectual functioning were nonsevere.
Id. at 14-15.
concluded that Lewis does not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the
severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R Park
404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. Id. at 16. The ALJ
determined that Lewis did not meet the requirements of
Listing 1.02 (major dysfunction of a joint due to any cause)
because her left lower extremity osteoarthritis and remote
history of osteomyelitis do not prevent her from ambulating
effectively or performing fine and gross movements
effectively. Id. The ALJ considered the combined
impact of her impairments, including obesity, and concluded
that she did not meet or medically equal the criteria for any
listed impairment. Id.
determined that Lewis's borderline intellectual
functioning did not meet or medically equal the criteria of
Listing 12.05 (intellectual disability) because there was no
evidence of adaptive functioning deficits prior to age 22.
Id. The ALJ noted that although Lewis's high
school transcript indicated that she completed high school
with a special education certificate, she received passing
grades in some regular classes, which was inconsistent with
intellectual disability and illiteracy. Id. The ALJ
pointed out that she could read the newspaper, do simple
math, and engage in normal independent activities of daily
living. Id. at 16-17. Finally, the ALJ pointed to
her many years of substantial gainful activity, as evidenced
by her ...