Lynch v. Astrue, No. C08-4090-MWB.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Northern District of West Virginia
Writing for the CourtPAUL A. ZOSS, United States Magistrate
Citation687 F. Supp.2d 841
PartiesChristine A. LYNCH, Plaintiff, v. Michael J. ASTRUE, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
Docket NumberNo. C08-4090-MWB.
Decision Date13 January 2010
687 F.Supp.2d 841

Christine A. LYNCH, Plaintiff,
v.
Michael J. ASTRUE, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

No. C08-4090-MWB.

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Western Division.

January 13, 2010.


687 F. Supp.2d 844

David A. Scott, Cornwall Avery Bjornstad Scott, Spencer, IA, for Plaintiff.

Martha A. Fagg, U.S. Attorney's Office, Sioux City, IA, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REGARDING MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

MARK W. BENNETT, District Judge.

 TABLE OF CONTENTS
                I. INTRODUCTION 844
                 A. Procedural Background 844
                 B. Factual Background 845
                 1. Introductory Facts and Lynch's Hearing Testimony 845
                 2. Lynch's Medical History 847
                 3. Vocational Expert's testimony 856
                 4. The ALJ's decision 857
                II. LEGAL STANDARDS 859
                III. PRELIMINARY MATTER: ADEQUACY OF LYNCH'S OBJECTION 862
                IV. LEGAL ANALYSIS 863
                 A. Lynch's Subjective Complaints 864
                 B. Limitations From the Functional Capacity Evaluation 865
                V. CONCLUSION 866
                
I. INTRODUCTION

A. Procedural Background

On May 10, 2005, plaintiff Christine Lynch filed applications for Title II disability insurance1 and Title XVI supplemental security income benefits2, alleging a disability onset date of September 1, 2004. In her application, Lynch claimed that she was disabled due to hepatitis C, peripheral edema, and chronic pain. According to Lynch, she suffers from swelling in her feet after standing for any length of time, back pain, and abdominal pain. Lynch's applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. An Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") held a hearing, as requested, on Lynch's claims on May 4, 2007. The ALJ issued a decision on August 28, 2007, which found that Lynch cannot return to any of her past relevant work but retains the functional capacity to perform other work—the ALJ found that Lynch was not disabled. On August 22, 2008, the Appeals Council denied Lynch's request to review the ALJ's decision, and this denial constituted a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner").

On October 20, 2008, Lynch filed a complaint in this court seeking review of the Commissioner's decision (docket no. 2)— the case was referred to Chief United States Magistrate Judge Paul A. Zoss for a report and recommendation, in accordance with Administrative Order # 1447.

On March 6, 2009, Lynch filed her Brief and Argument of Plaintiff (docket no. 10). In her brief, Lynch argued that the ALJ should have believed her testimony that she could only work part-time and could

687 F. Supp.2d 845

only stand for ten minutes at a time. Based on those limitations, the vocational expert ("VE") found that Lynch would be unable to perform any past or other fulltime work. Lynch also claimed that the ALJ improperly failed to consider her splints, carpal tunnel symptoms, and diminished sensation in finding that she was not disabled. Lynch argues that a Functional Capacity Evaluation ("FCE"), which recognized the alleged diminished sensation in her hands, determined that she could perform less than Sedentary Physical Demand Level for work above the waist, and determined that she had No Ability Demand Level for work below the waist.

On May 21, 2009, the Commissioner filed Defendant's Brief (docket no. 13). The Commissioner claimed that the ALJ's decision to deny benefits should be affirmed because there is substantial evidence in the record as a whole to support the following findings: (1) that Lynch did not have medically determinable impairments that could reasonably be expected to produce all of her alleged limitations— the Commissioner specifically claims that there is no objective evidence of carpal tunnel syndrome; (2) that Lynch's description of her limitations was not credible and not supported by (and was inconsistent with) the record as a whole, and (3) that Lynch retained the functional capacity to perform activities consistent with competitive work—the Commissioner claims that the ALJ was not required to rely entirely on the FCE's finding that Lynch was unable to perform some sedentary work.

On December 4, 2009, Judge Zoss issued a report and recommendation (docket no. 15), which noted the ALJ's exhaustive review of Lynch's medical records in supporting his assessment of Lynch's credibility and found that the ALJ's decision to deny Lynch benefits was supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole.

On December 18, 2009, Lynch filed her Objections to Report and Recommendation (docket no. 16), which contains one objection to Judge Zoss's Report and Recommendation. Lynch objects to Judge Zoss's finding that the ALJ's decision to deny benefits is supported by substantial evidence and identifies several pages that allegedly form the basis for her objection.

On December 22, 2009, the Commissioner filed Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Objections to the United States Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation (docket no. 17). According to the Commissioner, Lynch's Objections to Report and Recommendation fails to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72, because the one and only objection Lynch asserts fails to make reference to any specific portion of the Report and Recommendation nor specify the basis for the objection. Instead, the Commissioner claims that Lynch only generally objects to Judge Zoss's ultimate recommendation.

B. Factual Background

In Judge Zoss's Report and Recommendation, he made the following findings of fact:

1. Introductory Facts and Lynch's Hearing Testimony

Lynch was thirty-five years old at the time of her hearing. She was 5'5" tall and weighed 268 pounds. She stated her weight was down ten pounds because she had begun some type of thyroid treatment. She was not on any type of weight management program, and according to her, no weight management program had ever been recommended for her. As of September 2004, she weighed about 230 pounds. (R. 374, 387-388) According to her, no doctor has ever told her that she is diabetic, or that
687 F. Supp.2d 846
she has any health complications caused by her body weight. (R. 390)
Lynch is divorced, and at the time of the hearing, she was living in a farmhouse in Spencer, Iowa, with her boyfriend and one of her three children, who was fourteen years old at that time. (Id.) Two other children, then ages ten and thirteen, lived with their father. (R. 387) Lynch's boyfriend and son did most of the cooking and cleaning in the residence. (R. 393)
Lynch graduated from high school in 1990. In 1994, Lynch worked as a credit analyst at Sears Credit Central in Des Moines, a job she held for ten months. She took general business courses at the American Institute of Business for a year-and-a-half in 1994 and 1995. When she started school, she went from working full time to working part time. She worked for Sears again briefly in 1998, through a temporary agency. (R. 110, 375, 403-04) In 1995, she worked as an office assistant doing computer programming. (R. 110) Besides these two sedentary positions, Lynch worked from 1990 to 2003, at various other jobs including cashier at convenience stores, cooking at fast food restaurants and at a nursing home, housekeeper in a hotel, factory laborer, nurse's aide in a nursing home and an assisted living facility, and fast food waitress. (R. 110) At the time of the hearing, Lynch was working eight to twelve hours a week as a cashier at a gas station, a job she had held for five or six months. Her work hours were spread out over two to four days each week. She was paid $7.00 per hour. (R. 375-76)
Lynch quit working full time on September 1, 2004, because of "pain and moodiness due to the pain." (R. 83) She had begun having problems with back pain, and her right leg "wasn't functioning correctly." (R. 378) Her leg was "swelling and causing a lot of pain," and her feet would go numb and tingle. The problems worsened the longer she stood. (Id.) Her part-time job in 2007 required her to stand, and she still had times when her legs "flared up" and she had to stay home from work. (R. 391)
Lynch does not believe she could return to any of her past work, or that she could tolerate an increase in her hours as a cashier or clerk. (R. 387) However, she stated that if a job existed that met her functional capacities as found during her Functional Capacity Evaluation ("FCE"), she could work. (R. 396)
Initially, Lynch's primary treating medical professional was physician's assistant Denise Hemphill in Hartley, Iowa. P.A. Hemphill referred Lynch to Iowa City for an evaluation of her peripheral edema and back pain, but doctors in Iowa City were not able to determine a cause for the edema. Subsequently, Lynch began seeing Sherry Kolacia-Tighe, M.D. in Spencer, Iowa, who diagnosed Lynch with lymphedema. (R. 379-80) At the time of the ALJ hearing, Lynch was seeing Dr. Tighe twice a week for regular lab tests, monitoring, and follow-up of physical therapy prescribed by the doctor. (R. 381) Lynch stated the swelling in her right leg had improved since she started physical therapy. (Id.)
In the spring of 2007, Lynch's left leg also began swelling. She estimated she can stand on her feet for no more than ten to fifteen minutes at a time. She has constant leg pain, regardless of whether she is sitting or standing, and her legs swell even when she is wearing support socks. (R. 382-83) She has a formed wrap and bandage that she uses when the swelling gets "out of control," and she also uses the wrap every night to compress her leg. (R. 383)
687 F. Supp.2d 847
Lynch stated she is unable to do any bending at all. If she drops something and is sitting down, she sometimes "can roll it up her leg." (R. 384) She also has problems with her hands tingling and going numb. She stated she was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome in early 2007, and she has wrist braces that she wears at night. However, no doctor has suggested she have surgery or has advised her to limit her activities due to the condition. (R. 384-85)
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6 practice notes
  • Epting v. Berryhill, No. 16-CV-3118-LTS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • October 25, 2017
    ...clear to this court that there is a distinction between making an objection and making no objection at all . . . ." Lynch v. Astrue, 687 F. Supp. 2d 841 (2010) (citing Coop. Fin. Assoc. v. Garst, 917 F. Supp. 1356, 1373 (N.D. Iowa 1996)). This court will provide de novo review of all issues......
  • Wheeler v. Berryhill, No. C17-4038-LTS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • May 17, 2018
    ...clear to this court that there is a distinction between making an objection and making no objection at all . . . ." Lynch v. Astrue, 687 F. Supp. 2d 841 (2010) (citing Coop. Fin. Assoc. v. Garst, 917 F. Supp. 1356, 1373 (N.D. Iowa 1996)). This court will provide de novo review of all issues......
  • Cordes v. Berryhill, No. 16-CV-2104-LTS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • September 8, 2017
    ...clear to this court that there is a distinction between making an objection and making no objection at all . . . ." Lynch v. Astrue, 687 F. Supp. 2d 841 (2010) (citing Coop. Fin. Assoc. v. Garst, 917 F. Supp. 1356, 1373 (N.D. Iowa 1996)). This court will provide de novo review of all issues......
  • Hall-Jones v. Berryhill, No. 16-CV-0064-LTS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • September 1, 2017
    ...clear to this court that there is a distinction between making an objection and making no objection at all . . . ." Lynch v. Astrue, 687 F. Supp. 2d 841 (2010) (citing Coop. Fin. Assoc. v. Garst, 917 F. Supp. 1356, 1373 (N.D. Iowa 1996)). This court will provide de novo review of all issues......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • Epting v. Berryhill, No. 16-CV-3118-LTS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • October 25, 2017
    ...clear to this court that there is a distinction between making an objection and making no objection at all . . . ." Lynch v. Astrue, 687 F. Supp. 2d 841 (2010) (citing Coop. Fin. Assoc. v. Garst, 917 F. Supp. 1356, 1373 (N.D. Iowa 1996)). This court will provide de novo review of all issues......
  • Wheeler v. Berryhill, No. C17-4038-LTS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • May 17, 2018
    ...clear to this court that there is a distinction between making an objection and making no objection at all . . . ." Lynch v. Astrue, 687 F. Supp. 2d 841 (2010) (citing Coop. Fin. Assoc. v. Garst, 917 F. Supp. 1356, 1373 (N.D. Iowa 1996)). This court will provide de novo review of all issues......
  • Cordes v. Berryhill, No. 16-CV-2104-LTS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • September 8, 2017
    ...clear to this court that there is a distinction between making an objection and making no objection at all . . . ." Lynch v. Astrue, 687 F. Supp. 2d 841 (2010) (citing Coop. Fin. Assoc. v. Garst, 917 F. Supp. 1356, 1373 (N.D. Iowa 1996)). This court will provide de novo review of all issues......
  • Hall-Jones v. Berryhill, No. 16-CV-0064-LTS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • September 1, 2017
    ...clear to this court that there is a distinction between making an objection and making no objection at all . . . ." Lynch v. Astrue, 687 F. Supp. 2d 841 (2010) (citing Coop. Fin. Assoc. v. Garst, 917 F. Supp. 1356, 1373 (N.D. Iowa 1996)). This court will provide de novo review of all issues......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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