United States District Court, D. Maryland
DONALD S. CAMPBELL, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
THOMAS M. DiGIROLAMO, Magistrate Judge.
Donald S. Campbell ("Plaintiff") seeks judicial review under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Defendant" or the "Commissioner") denying his applications for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. Before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 12) and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 14). Plaintiff contends that the administrative record does not contain substantial evidence to support the Commissioner's decision that he is not disabled. No hearing is necessary. L.R. 105.6. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 14) is GRANTED, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 12) is DENIED, and the Commissioner's decision is AFFIRMED.
Plaintiff was born in 1959, has a high-school education, and previously worked as a mover and cleaner. R. at 16, 113. Plaintiff applied for DIB protectively on June 7, 2010, and for SSI on June 17, 2010, alleging disability beginning on March 20, 2010, due to right-side immobility and pain in the right shoulder. R. at 10, 82-90, 107, 145. The Commissioner denied Plaintiff's applications initially and again on reconsideration; consequently, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). R. at 28-38, 41-46. On January 19, 2012, ALJ Eugene Bond held a hearing at which Plaintiff and a vocational expert ("VE") testified. R. at 18-27. On February 29, 2012, the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff not disabled since the alleged onset date of disability of March 20, 2010. R. at 7-17. Plaintiff sought review of this decision by the Appeals Council, which denied Plaintiff's request for review on April 24, 2013. R. at 1-6. The ALJ's decision thus became the final decision of the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481; see also Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07, 120 S.Ct. 2080, 2083 (2000).
On June 28, 2013, Plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court seeking review of the Commissioner's decision. Upon the parties' consent, this case was transferred to a United States Magistrate Judge for final disposition and entry of judgment. The case subsequently was reassigned to the undersigned. The parties have briefed the issues, and the matter is now fully submitted.
Summary of Evidence
A. Mohammad Naficy, M.D. (Prince George's Hospital Center)
In reviewing the medical evidence of record, the ALJ stated in his decision:
The medical evidence of record reveals that [Plaintiff] presented to the hospital in March 2010 complaining of shortness of breath upon exertion. A CT Angiography of [Plaintiff's] chest diagnosed a right-sided pneumothorax, extensive apical bilateral blebs, extensive airspace opacity in the right lung, and subcutaneous emphysema on the right. On March 26, 2010, [Plaintiff] underwent a right thoracotomy and resection of the blebs, pleurodesis, and insertion of a chest tube with intercostals nerve blocks. Following surgery, testing demonstrated no active lung [or] pleural space disease.
In terms of [Plaintiff's] post-operative complaints of pain and shortness of breath, the record is very limited. In June 2010, [Plaintiff] complained to his cardiologist, Mohamad [sic] Ali Nacify [sic], M.D. of right shoulder and chest pain, for which [Plaintiff] was sent to physical therapy. In September 2010, Dr. Nacify [sic] noted that [Plaintiff] was doing well. In October 2010, [Plaintiff] continued to complain of right shoulder pain. A CT of [Plaintiff's] thorax in November 2010 demonstrated no active lung or pleural space disease, but noted bilateral blebs with bullous and cystic changes in the left apex. The evidence indicates that [Plaintiff] did not return to Dr. Nacify [sic] until June 2011 when he reported pain on the right chest wall near his incision. [Plaintiff] made similar complaints in November 2011. A chest x-ray in November 2011 again revealed no active infiltrates, but noted the continued presence of bulla in the left lung apex.
R. at 14-15 (citations omitted); see R. at 153-92, 255-89, 331-45.
In a letter dated April 15, 2010, Dr. Naficy stated:
We are writing to inform you [Plaintiff] has been under my care since March 22, 2010. He has had major surgery by us on March 26, 2010 at Prince George's Hospital. He has to come in for another appointment in a month and at that time we will determine if he's able to return to work. Effective April 15, 2010 he is unable to work.
R. at 345.
B. Ikechi Fred Okwara, M.D.
The ALJ noted the following in his decision:
In September 2010, [Plaintiff] attended a consultative examination performed by Ikechi Fred Okwara, M.D. At that time, [Plaintiff] complained of right-sided chest numbness, right-sided pain, and occasional shortness of breath. On examination, [Plaintiff] demonstrated tenderness at the incision site on the right chest wall and in the right shoulder with decreased range of motion in the right shoulder, normal grip strength, and full range of motion in the right elbow and wrist. Pulmonary function testing indicated the presence of moderate obstructive airway disease.
R. at 15 (citation omitted); see R. at 227-38. Dr. Okwara's diagnoses included (1) status post right thoracotomy secondary to pneumothorax; (2) history of pneumothorax; (3) right shoulder pain, suspect secondary to tendinitis of the rotator cuff; and (4) right chest wall pain secondary to postoperative wound incision. R. at 238.
C. State Agency Medical Consultants
On October 7, 2010, Jim Takach, M.D., assessed Plaintiff's physical residual functional capacity ("RFC"). R. at 243-50. Dr. Takach opined that Plaintiff could (1) lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; (2) stand and/or walk for a total of about six hours in an eight-hour workday; (3) sit for about six hours in an eight-hour workday; and (4) reach occasionally overhead with the right upper extremity. R. at 244. In addition to Plaintiff's manipulative limitation of occasional overhead reaching, he could occasionally climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. R. at 245-46. Plaintiff's environmental limitations included avoiding concentrated exposure to fumes, odors, dusts, gases, and poor ventilation. R. at 247. ...