United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division
PERCY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Clarence McCord has applied for judicial review under 42
U.S.C. § 405(g) of the Commissioner of Social
Security's decision denying his application for
supplemental security income (SSI) under Title XVI of the
Social Security Act. Docket 1. Plaintiff filed an application
for benefits on January 15, 2013, alleging disability
beginning on August 9, 2009. Docket 7 at 178-183.
agency administratively denied Plaintiff's claim
initially on April 23, 2013, and on reconsideration on
September 3, 2013. Id. at 81- 91; 94-103. Plaintiff
then requested an administrative hearing, which the
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held on January 20, 2015.
Id. at 116-17; 128-32. The ALJ issued an unfavorable
decision on May 1, 2015. Id. at 9-23. The Appeals
Council denied his request for review on July 19, 2016.
Id. at 1-4. Plaintiff timely filed this appeal from
the July 19, 2016 decision, the undersigned held a hearing on
May 11, 2017, and it is now ripe for review.
both parties have consented to a magistrate judge conducting
all the proceedings in this case as provided in 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(c), the undersigned has the authority to issue
this opinion and the accompanying final judgment. Docket 9.
was born January 10, 1963, and was 52 years old at the time
of the ALJ hearing. Docket 7 at 178. At the time
Plaintiff's application was filed, Plaintiff was 50 years
old and considered an individual closely approaching advanced
age. Id. at 21. Plaintiff has an eighth grade
education and has past relevant work in construction, which
is considered semi-skilled, medium to heavy work.
Id. at 34-35. Plaintiff testified that he last
worked in 2004 or 2005 and contends he became disabled as a
result of back problems, sleep apnea, breathing problems,
arthritis, diabetes, and depression. Id. at 35; 81.
Plaintiff testified that, due to his back pain, he hurts all
the time and cannot stand for more than a couple of hours
“on a good day.” Id. at 38.
Plaintiff's mental health issues, he testified that he
was previously treated by a therapist for his anxiety and
depression and was prescribed celexa but currently just
“read[s] the Bible and pray[s] to God about [his]
depression.” Id. at 48. Due to his excessive
worry about his friends and family members and their
wellbeing, Plaintiff stated that he “ain't been to
sleep in days, and […] can't even think
right.” Id. at 49. Plaintiff testified that he
is able to cook and clean for himself but described some
limitations in his ability to drive a car and stated that his
family and friends assist him with grocery shopping.
Id. at 40, 42.
Function Report - Adult was submitted on January 30, 2013, in
which he stated that his conditions affect his ability to
lift, squat, bend, stand, reach, walk, sit, kneel, talk,
hear, climb stairs, see, complete tasks, concentrate, use his
hands, and get along with others. Id. at 218.
Plaintiff indicated that he uses a cane, a brace/splint,
glasses, and an electric shopping cart but stated that none
of these devices was prescribed by a doctor. Id. at
219. In the general remarks section, Plaintiff listed the
following conditions from which he suffers: arthritis, sleep
apnea, nerves, anxiety, major depression, chronic pain,
diabetes, mesothelioma, or some form of cancer from working
with asbestos in the construction industries. Id. at
220 The ALJ established that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since January 15, 2013, the
application date. Id. at 14. Next, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff experienced the severe impairments of
arthralgias, obesity, obstructive sleep apnea, depression,
and anxiety but that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet
or medically equal a listed impairment in 20 C.F.R. Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 C.F.R. 416.920(d), 416.925, and
416.926). Id. at 14-15.
specifically discussed how Plaintiff's mental
impairments, considered singly and in combination, do not
meet or medically equal the criteria of Listing 12.04.
Id. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff has mild
restrictions in the activities of daily living, moderate
difficulties in social functioning and concentration,
persistence, and pace, and has not experienced any episodes
of decompensation. Id. at 15. Furthermore, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff “is able to live alone and
care for his needs […] outside of a highly supportive
all of Plaintiff's severe impairments, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff's demonstrated abilities were consistent with a
Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to perform light work.
Id. at 15-21. The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff could
“occasionally climb ramps and stairs, […]
crouch, stoop, kneel, and crawl” but should
“avoid climbing ladders, ropes, and scaffolds”
and “should not work at exposed heights or around
dangerous machinery.” Id. at 15. Further, the
ALJ limited Plaintiff “to jobs involving simple and
routine tasks, ” “frequent interaction with
coworkers and supervisors, ” and “occasional
interaction with the general public.” Id.
record contains two medical source statements from
Plaintiff's treating physician Dr. Ramon Rosencrans dated
September 15, 2011 and April 28, 2014. Id. at
242-44; 356-58. As a result of Plaintiff's chronic low
blood pressure, osteoarthritis/joint pain, and depression,
Dr. Rosencrans opined that Plaintiff experienced constant
(meaning 67% or more of the day) “pain or other
symptoms severe enough to interfere with attention and
concentration needed to perform even simple work tasks during
a normal eight-hour work day.” Id. at 242,
356. He indicated that due to Plaintiff's back pain, he
could sit, stand, and walk for less than two hours during a
normal workday and needed to elevate his legs with prolonged
sitting. Id. at 243, 357. Dr. Rosencrans stated that
Plaintiff required the use of a cane to assist with balance.
first medical source statement, Dr. Rosencrans opined that
due to his back and leg pain, Plaintiff could occasionally
lift and carry 10 pounds in a normal eight-hour workday;
occasionally twist, stoop, and climb stairs, and never crouch
or climb ladders. Id. at 243. In his second
statement approximately two and a half years later Dr.
Rosencrans believed Plaintiff could only rarely lift and
carry 10 pounds, but could rarely (as opposed to never, as he
had previously opined) crouch and climb ladders or stoop, and
could occasionally twist and climb stairs. Id. at
357. Dr. Rosencrans believed Plaintiff had significant
limitations in doing repetitive reaching, handling, or
fingering and would likely be absent from work as a result of
his impairments or medical treatment about four days per
month Id. at 243-44; 357-58.
these severe limitations and lengthy record of treatment
visits from Dr. Rosencrans, the ALJ noted the absence of
“any laboratory work or other clinical work up other
than simply recording [Plaintiff's] temperature and blood
pressure” as well as the absence of any MRI or x-ray
reports. Id. at 18. Since the only x-rays in the
record were from 2009 and “showed very mild
degenerative changes, ” the ALJ ordered a consultative
examination to obtain new x- rays in order to “find a
reason for [Plaintiff's] back pain.” Id.
at 55. On January 30, 2015, consultative examiner Dr. Covin
Jordan performed an x-ray of Plaintiff's lumbar spine
with the following interpretation: “Curvature is
normal. No compression injury is seen. No unusual
degenerative change.” Id. at 467.
deciding to afford only some weight to Dr. Rosencrans's
opinion, the ALJ referenced Dr. Barry Politi's Mary 27,
2013, opinion that Plaintiff demonstrated “obvious
gross overreaction on some palpation and movement of the
extremities.” Id. at 315. Despite refusing to
perform most major musculoskeletal movements on physical
examination, when preparing to leave, Dr. Politi noted that
Plaintiff “had no problems bending over, picking up his
shoes, and crossing his legs to show me a scar on …
his foot.” Id. Dr. Politi further noted that
Plaintiff “had no difficulty walking into the parking
lot and getting into his car. He was able to turn the
steering wheel ...