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 Sharon
Jones of the Commissioner of Social Security's final
decision denying Jones's application for Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”). In rendering this
Memorandum Opinion and Order, the Court has carefully
reviewed the Administrative Record  regarding Jones's
claims (including the administrative decision, the medical
records, and a transcript of the hearing before the
Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ")), Appellant's
Motion for Summary Judgment  and supporting Memorandum
Brief , Defendant's Brief in Opposition to
Plaintiff's Memorandum Brief , and Plaintiff's
Reply Brief . 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 reversed and remanded for further consideration.
Accordingly, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment 
is granted in part and denied in part.
filed her application for SSI on March 23, 2012, and alleged
a disability onset date of January 1, 2002, when she was
thirty-five years of age.  at 93-94,
148-150. The Social Security Administration denied
a previous request for benefits in a decision issued on April
27, 2010. Id. at 82-91.
who completed about two years of college toward an
Associate's degree, was born on October 20, 1966.
Id. at 148. Although she formerly worked as a
logistics driver and in a grocery store deli as a cake
decorator, she has no relevant work history. Id. at
19, 36, 40, 164.
alleges that she is disabled due to high blood pressure,
asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
(“COPD”),  arthritis, and bulging discs. Id.
at 163. She was forty-seven years of age at the time of the
ALJ's August 28, 2014, decision. Id. at 21. Her
Initial Disability Report described her as being five feet,
four inches tall and weighing two hundred forty-two pounds.
Id. at 163.
Social Security Administration denied Jones's application
initially and upon reconsideration. Id. at 97, 101.
Jones requested a hearing, which was held on April 17, 2014.
Id. at 28. On August 28, 2014, the ALJ issued a
decision finding that Jones was not disabled. Id. at
8-21. The Appeals Council denied her request for review on
January 8, 2016, id. at 1, and this appeal followed.
Court has determined that a detailed recitation of the
medical records is not necessary because the ALJ provided a
summary in her decision. Nevertheless, a review of the
observations and evaluations of certain examiners will aid in
the consideration of this case. The records demonstrate that
Jones sought regular treatment for her sarcoidosis from 2007
to 2012 from Ric Alexander, M.D. Id. at
242-264. In July 2011, Dr. Alexander commented that
Jones “has sarcoidosis, some mild asthma, she's
overweight, [she has] a lot of pain problems but she's
actually doing fairly well now.” Id. at 244.
As of January 30, 2012, Dr. Alexander's impression was
that Jones had “some mild exacerbation” with a
recent upper respiratory infection and “some
bronchitis, ” but that her “sarcoid has been
fairly stable.” Id. at 242. He further
commented that “[o]verall she has been feeling
well.” Id. During six examinations from May
2012 to November 2013, Dr. Alexander described her
sarcoidosis as “inactive” and
“stable.” Id. at 462-469.
indicate that Jones sought regular mental health treatment at
Weems Community Mental Health Center from January 2009 to
February 2014. Id. at 267-367, 473-495. Despite
being diagnosed with “Major Depressive Disorder,
Recurrent, Severe, ” in February 2009, treatment notes
indicate that her condition improved resulting from a course
of consistent treatment sessions and drug therapy.
Id. at 367. In September 2011, a social worker
described Jones as “showing progress toward being med.
compliant and basic physical needs.” Id. at
268. Throughout 2012 and 2013, her treating mental health
nurse practitioner, Madelyn Parker, commented that she was
“doing well” with “no depression, ”
id. at 475, 478, or she was “doing pretty
good, ” id. at 485, 491. During this period,
Parker consistently assessed that Jones has “no
positive signs of psychosis or major affective disruption,
” “no neuroleptic effects, ” and
“adequate insight and alliance.” Id. at
475, 478, 480, 482, 485, 487, 489, 491, 494. In November
2013, Parker described Jones as “cheerful” and
“talkative, ” and assessed Jones with a GAF of
66. Id. at 475. Jones exhibited depression and
distraction in February 2014, but the nurse practitioner
noted that Jones's son was in Afghanistan. Id.
at 473. Nevertheless, the nurse practitioner still assessed
Jones with a GAF of 66. Id.
from Azhar Pasha, M.D., demonstrate that Jones sought regular
back pain treatment from him from 2012 to 2014. Id.
at 549-611. In May 2012, the earliest visit in the record,
Dr. Pasha described Jones as “an established
patient” who came in for a “scheduled follow
up.” Id. at 611. From 2012 to 2014, Dr. Pasha
performed a series of spinal steroid injections, nerve
blocks, and ablations to assist Jones with back pain
management. Throughout this time period, she underwent both
lumbar and cervical spine injections, with good results, for
treatment of lumbar and cervical spondylosis without
myelopathy, facet syndrome of the lumbar spine, lumbosacral
radiculitis, and degenerative disc disease. At various times,
Dr. Pasha diagnosed Jones with chronic pain syndrome and
opioid dependence unspecified. Id. at 554, 557, 562,
565, 569, 573, 578, 581, 584-585, 589, 597, 599, 605, 609,
611. The most recent record is from April 1, 2014, when Dr.
Pasha performed a bilateral L3 and L4 medial branch and a
bilateral L5 dorsal ramus branch diagnostic block.
Id. at 549. After the successful procedure, Dr.
Pasha's diagnosis was “lumbar spondylosis without
myelopathy . . ., ” “degenerative
lumbar/lumbosacral intervertebral . . ., ” and
“facet syndrome of back.” Id. During the
time period from 2012 to 2014, Dr. Pasha's records
indicate that Jones's weight ranged from two hundred
forty pounds to two hundred seventy-six pounds. Id.
at 551, 601.
16, 2012, Dr. Pasha completed a “Medical Source
Statement - Physical” that described Jones's
impairments. Id. at 368. Dr. Pasha diagnosed Jones
with “left leg ARA, Lumbar spondylosis, ” and
stated that he did not expect Jones to improve. Id.
He described Jones's symptoms as pain, fatigue, back and
left leg pain. Id. He indicated that she could sit
and stand/walk zero to two hours and sit three hours in an
eight-hour work day. Id. at 369. He stated that she
would need a job that permits shifting positions at will from
sitting, standing, or walking. Id. He also stated
that she could occasionally lift less than ten pounds, while
she should rarely lift ten, twenty, and fifty pounds.
Id. Dr. Pasha indicated that Jones could rarely
twist, stoop, crouch/squat, climb ladders, and climb stairs,
while noting she had no limitations with reaching, handling,
or fingering. Id. He noted that her pain would
constantly interfere with her attention and concentration,
but that she would be capable of low stress jobs due to her
severe anxiety. Id. at 370. Finally, Dr. Pasha
concluded that Jones would be absent more than four days per
month due to her impairments. Id.
HEARING AND DECISION
August 28, 2014, decision, the ALJ evaluated Jones's
impairments using the familiar sequential evaluation
process and found that she has the severe
impairments of obesity, lumbar and cervical spondylosis,
lumbosacral radiculitis, degenerative disc disease,
arthritis, sarcoidosis with interstitial fibrosis, and
asthma. Id. at 13. The ALJ found that Jones's
hypertension and depression were non-severe. Id. The
ALJ also considered the combined effect of these impairments
and determined that they did not, singly or in combination,
meet or medically equal the criteria for any listed
impairment. Id. at 15. In reaching that conclusion,
the ALJ determined that her respiratory conditions did not
meet those of the Listings, and she specifically considered
Jones's obesity in combination with her other
impairments. Id. at 15-16.
considering the record, the ALJ found that Jones has the
residual functional capacity to “perform sedentary work
as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(a) except with a consideration
she should avoid even moderate exposure to pulmonary
irritants.” Id. at 16. Considering her alleged
symptoms and limitations, the ALJ found that the evidence
does not support a finding that Jones's pain, including
headache, her symptoms of mental disorders and side effects
of medication “would impose any appreciable limitation
in [her] abilities to: understand, carry out, and remember
instructions; use judgment in making work-related decisions,
respond appropriately to supervision, co-workers and work
situations; or deal with changes in a routine work
setting.” Id. at 18.
Jones's age, education, work experience, and residual
functional capacity, the ALJ concluded that jobs exist in
significant numbers in the national economy that Jones can
perform. Id. at 19. After consulting with a
vocational expert, the ALJ concluded that she would be able
to perform the jobs of bench assembler (unskilled and
sedentary), small parts assembler (unskilled and sedentary as
performed in the national economy), and café food
checker (unskilled and sedentary). Id. at 20.
Alternatively, the ALJ determined that if her pain limited
her ability to sustain concentration and attention to the
point where she was limited to performing only simple,
routine tasks, Jones still would not be disabled because she
could still perform the jobs identified by the ALJ.
Id. Thus, the ALJ found that Jones had not been
disabled since March 23, 2012, the date of the application.