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.

Hume v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Oregon

September 11, 2017

RAYMOND HUME, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          STACIE F. BECKERMAN, United States Magistrate Judge

         Raymond Scott Hume (“Hume”) brings this appeal challenging the Commissioner of Social Security's (“Commissioner”) denial of his applications for Social Security disability insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-34, 1381-83f. The Court has jurisdiction to hear this appeal pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). For the reasons that follow, the Court affirms the Commissioner's decision because it is free of legal error and supported by substantial evidence.

         BACKGROUND

         Hume stands six feet, three inches tall and weighs approximately 275 pounds. He was born in February 1957, making him fifty-five years old on October 12, 2012, the alleged disability onset date. Hume completed three years of college, and his past relevant work includes time as a surveillance system monitor. Hume alleges disability due primarily to anxiety, chronic pain, and depression.

         On February 20, 2012, roughly eight months before Hume stopped working and alleges the onset of disability, Hume visited the emergency department at Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center, complaining of weakness, dizziness “with some vertiginous symptoms, ” and intermittent chest pain. (Tr. 360-61.) Hume underwent an “extensive imaging workup, ” which did “not show any acute vascular event.” (Tr. 361.) The attending physician, Dr. Sanjiv Panwala (“Dr. Panwala”), noted that Hume's low heart rate “certainly could explain his fatigue and dizziness, ” and discontinued a medication that was likely contributing to Hume's condition. (Tr. 361.)

         On July 10, 2012, Hume presented for an annual visit with Dr. Charles Douville (“Dr. Douville”) regarding a “known dilated ascending aorta and root.” (Tr. 400.) Dr. Douville noted that Hume's ascending aorta was “really unchanged in size over the previous examination, ” and that Hume's control of his blood pressure was “suboptimal” and had “been a struggle.” (Tr. 401.) Dr. Douville informed Hume that “he is still best served by continued medical therapy and observation, ” and recommended that Hume undertake an “aggressive weight loss” program. (Tr. 401.)

         On November 8, 2012, a magnetic resonance imaging (“MRI”) of Hume's lumbar spine revealed no “significant change” when compared with imaging from January 2007, “[m]ild multilevel disc and facet degenerative changes, ” and “[n]o significant central canal or foraminal stenosis.” (Tr. 409; see alsoTr. 424, noting that the MRI of Hume's lumbar spine revealed that he has “facet hypertrophy” and “a mild disc bulge to the right, ” but not “anything surprising or serious”).

         On February 22, 2013, Hume visited his primary care physician, Dr. Michael Booker (“Dr. Booker”), for a follow-up regarding his blood pressure. Hume reported that he wanted “to be on disability, ” did not “want to return to work, ” and wanted “to sue his employer.” (Tr. 521.) He also complained of increased discomfort in his left shoulder, chronic back pain, depression, and personal and financial stressors. Hume and Dr. Booker, who had routinely encouraged Hume to engage in exercise and lose weight as a means to control his blood pressure (see Tr. 432, 435-36, 564), discussed the fact that if Hume's blood pressure was “not controlled his life threatening condition of uncontrolled hypertension, history of stroke, and his aneurysm [are] very concerning.” (Tr. 522.)

         On March 9, 2013, Hume was referred to Dr. Donald Ramsthel (“Dr. Ramsthel”) for a consultative examination. Hume reported that his “primary perceived disabling issues” were his lower back pain, aortic aneurysm, anxiety, and depression, that he “can do his” activities of daily living, and that his level of activity is “sedentary to mild, mostly due to his anxiety and depression.” (Tr. 477-78.) Based on the results of his examination, Dr. Ramsthel estimated that Hume can stand or walk “for at least [thirty] minutes at a time before needing to sit down, translating into about [three to four] hours out of an [eight]-hour day, ” can sit two “hours at a time, translating into [four to six] hours out of an [eight]-hour day, ” can lift and carry forty pounds “infrequently” and twenty pounds frequently, would be somewhat limited in his ability to handle objects on a “repetitive basis . . . due to his chronic left shoulder pain and instability, ” and would be limited in his ability to travel due primarily “to his mental issues rather than his physical issues.” (Tr. 480.)

         On March 12, 2013, Dr. Sharon Eder (“Dr. Eder”), a non-examining state agency physician, completed a physical residual functional capacity assessment. (Tr. 92-94.) Dr. Eder concluded that Hume could lift and carry twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently; stand, sit, or walk up to six hours during an eight-hour workday; push or pull in accordance with his lifting and carrying restrictions; occasionally stoop and climb ramps, stairs, ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; and frequently balance, kneel, crouch, and crawl. Dr. Eder also concluded that Hume does not suffer from any manipulative, visual, communicative, or environmental limitations.

         On March 20, 2013, Dr. Irmgard Friedburg (“Dr. Friedburg”), a non-examining state agency psychologist, completed a psychiatric review technique assessment. (Tr. 91.) Based on her review of the record, Dr. Friedburg concluded that the limitations imposed by Hume's impairments failed to satisfy listings 12.04 (affective disorders) and 12.06 (anxiety-related disorders).

         On April 10, 2013, an x-ray of Hume's chest revealed “[n]o active cardiopulmonary disease.” (Tr. 583.)

         On May 14, 2013, an MRI of Hume's brain revealed “small infarcts” and “no acute intracranial abnormality.” (Tr. 488.)

         On August 28, 2013, Hume returned to Dr. Booker's office, complaining of back pain, dizziness, vertigo, and issues with his eyes. (Tr. 511.) In his treatment note, Dr. Booker observed that the neurology department believed that Hume had a “tendency towards somatizations, ” Hume focuses on his health problems “to an unhealthy extent, ” “[n]o singular problem would qualify for disability, ” there was “no reason [Hume] could not try to work as he does have employment options where he did work, ” and Hume “should try going back to work to help keep him occupied.” (Tr. 513.)

         In a vestibular lab report dated September 11, 2013, Dr. Jeffrey Brown (“Dr. Brown”) noted that his examination revealed that Hume was at “a very high risk of falls and injury” due to balance issues and thus should avoid “uneven ground or moving surfaces.” (Tr. 1286.) He also recommended that Hume undergo“[b]alance therapy and, perhaps, [use an] assistive device[.]” (Tr. 1286.)

         On October 31, 2013, Dr. Martin Kehrli (“Dr. Kehrli”), a non-examining state agency physician, issued a physical residual functional capacity assessment, wherein he agreed with Dr. Eder's conclusion that Hume can lift and carry twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently; stand, sit, or walk up to six hours during an eight-hour workday; push or pull in accordance with his lifting and carrying restrictions; occasionally stoop and climb ramps, stairs, ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; and frequently balance, kneel, crouch, and crawl. (Tr. 124-25.) Dr. Kehrli also agreed with Dr. Eder's conclusion that Hume does not suffer from manipulative, visual, or communicative limitations, but disagreed with Dr. Eder's conclusion that Hume does not suffer from environmental limitations, such as the need to avoid concentrated exposure to noise and hazards.

         On November 21, 2013, Hume was referred to Dr. Daniel Scharf (“Dr. Scharf”) for a psychodiagnostic examination. (Tr. 584-88.) During the examination, Hume “primarily focused on his physical difficulties of reported back and neck pain as his main barriers to working, ” but also reported “consistent low-level depression and very mild anxiety which were not evident on examination.” (Tr. 584, 586.) Based on his examination, Dr. Scharf's diagnostic impressions were that Hume suffers from a “moderate” depressive disorder and a “mild” anxiety disorder, exhibited “no objective signs of cognitive problems, ” “was able to understand and remember instructions and sustain concentration and attention, ” “would have difficulties with persistence in his attention after [one to two] hours, ” and “was able to engage in appropriate social interaction.” (Tr. 586.)

         On December 2, 2013, Dr. Dorothy Anderson (“Dr. Anderson”), a non-examining state agency psychologist, issued a psychiatric review technique assessment, agreeing with Dr. Friedburg's conclusion that Hume's mental impairments failed to satisfy listings 12.04 and 12.06, and noting that Hume's impairments also failed to satisfy listing 12.07 (somatoform disorders). (Tr. 122.)

         On August 7, 2014, an MRI of Hume's cervical spine revealed “[m]ultilvel degenerative disc disease, “[l]eft foraminal stenosis at ¶ 6-7, ” and a “focal area of abnormal enhancement” that “could represent a spondylo-diskitis, focal osteomyelitis or possible neoplastic process.” (Tr. 803-04.)

         On September 11, 2014, an MRI of Hume's left shoulder revealed “[m]oderate osteoarthritic changes . . . of the glenohumeral and acromioclavicular joints” and “[m]ild tearing . . . of the supraspinatus and infraspinatus tendons at their insertion sites on the humeral head[.]” (Tr. 949.)

         On October 10, 2014, Hume underwent an electrodiagnostic evaluation that showed “evidence of a sensory-motor ulnar neuropathy at the left elbow” that was “not clearly symptomatic” and did not require surgery. (Tr. 795.) Hume also underwent an electromyography that did “not identify cervical motor radiculopathy” or “exclude a sensory-only radiculopathy.” (Tr. 795.)

         On October 19, 2014, Hume had computed tomography (“CT”) scans taken of his chest, abdomen, and pelvis, which revealed “[n]o aortic aneurysm or dissection, ” and an enlarged heart “with pulmonary findings suggesting venous congestion and possibly early [congestive heart failure].” (Tr. 833.) It was later determined that Hume “does not have a diagnosis of congestive heart failure.” (Tr. 970.)

         On November 19, 2014, Hume presented for a follow-up visit with Dr. Booker regarding his back pain. Hume reported that his back pain was “worse” and that he was “having a very hard time walking.” (Tr. 965.) Dr. Booker noted that Hume believed there was a “surgical solution but surgery didn't have a clear opinion about [Hume] being a surgical candidate given his MRI lumbar results.” (Tr. 965.) Dr. Booker added that he did not “feel [Hume] is a surgical candidate for his lumbar degenerative changes, ” and it was “[m]ore important to get his blood pressure down.” (Tr. 967.)

         In a treatment note dated January 28, 2015, Dr. Booker noted that Hume complained of “ongoing neck pain” and “numerous lipomas he would like to see surgery about again, ” and that Dr. Booker did not “think he needs surgery for the lipoma in question” or that Hume “has a surgical issue with his neck for any symptoms but [would] follow up with neurosurgery.” (Tr. 958-60.)

         On February 6, 2015, an MRI of Hume's cervical spine revealed a “[s]table lesion involving the upper endplate of C7 to the left of midline with extension into the adjacent C6-7 discs.” (Tr. 807.) Dr. Steve Urman (“Dr. Urman”) “doubt[ed]” that Hume's lesion “represents a focus of infection but rather is more typical of a vascular lesion or atypical hemangioma.” (Tr. 807.)

         On March 9, 2015, Hume was referred to a neurosurgeon, Dr. Claudia Martin (“Dr. Martin”). Dr. Martin “[r]eassured” Hume that his recent “cervical MRI finding [was] benign.” (Tr. 1290.) During a follow-up visit, Hume exhibited full motor power “in all lower extremity muscle groups, ” Dr. Martin noted that Hume “does not need any lumbar surgery, ” Dr. Martin “[d]iscussed conservative treatment for back pain” with Hume, and Dr. Martin added that she did “not understand what was [purportedly] recommended to [Hume] by an outside neurosurgeon.” (Tr. 1289.)

         In a treatment note dated June 17, 2015, Dr. Booker noted that Hume complained of pain in his right foot, that Vicodin “helps with [Hume's] low back pain, ” that Hume reported that seeing a therapist had “been helpful, ” that Hume's “plantar fasciitis symptoms [were] improving” as the result of “home exercises and stretching, ” that “[i]n the long run weight loss would be helpful, ” and that Hume's plantar fasciitis was “improving as expected.” (Tr. 1299-1300.)

         On June 25, 2015, Hume's psychologist, Dr. James Born (“Dr. Born”), completed a medical source statement at the request of Hume's counsel. (Tr. 1106-10.) Dr. Born stated, inter alia, that he has treated Hume on a weekly to bi-weekly basis since January 2015, and that Hume suffers from severe depression and anxiety; extreme impairment in his ability to maintain concentration, persistence, or pace; and marked impairment in social functioning, his activities of daily living, and his ability to “maintain attention and concentration for extended periods, ” “perform activities within a schedule, maintain regular attendance and be punctual within customary tolerances, ” “sustain an ordinary routine without special supervision, ” “work in coordination with or proximity to others without being distracted by them, ” “complete a normal workday and workweek without interruptions from psychologically based symptoms and to perform at a consistent pace without an unreasonable number and length of rest periods, ” and “maintain socially appropriate behavior and to adhere to basic standards of neatness and cleanliness.” ...


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.