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Patterson v. Colvin

United States District Court, Third Circuit

September 25, 2013

CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Defendant.


MICHAEL A. SHIPP, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Angela Patterson's ("Plaintiff') appeal from the final decision of Michael Astrue, now Carolyn Colvin, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the "Commissioner"), denying Plaintiff's request for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB"). The Court has jurisdiction to review this matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) and reaches its decision without oral argument pursuant to Local Civil Rule 78.1. For the reasons set forth below, the Court REMANDS this matter for further administrative proceedings.


A. Procedural History

Plaintiff filed for an application for SSDI benefits on September 6, 2007, alleging disability beginning on August 24, 2007. (Administrative Transcript ("Tr.") at 9, ECF No. 6.) Plaintiff's claim was denied. ( Id. ) Plaintiff requested a hearing, which was held before Administrative Law Judge ("AU") James Andres on August 13, 2009, and July 21, 2010. ( Id. 15-52.) On August 20, 2010, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled stating that she retains the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform the "full range of sedentary work as defined in 20 C.P.R. 404.1567(a)." ( Id. at 11-12.) Plaintiff sought review of the AU's decision on September 8, 2010, which the Appeals Council summarily denied. ( Id. at 1-4, 151-54.) Plaintiff asserts that the AU, and subsequently the Commissioner, erred in determining that Plaintiff was not disabled by: (1) failing to provide a sufficient RFC assessment, and (2) failing to properly consider Plaintiff's subjective complaints and credibility. (Pl.'s Moving Br. 14-24, ECF No. 15.) Furthermore, Plaintiff asserts that she has submitted new and material evidence that would allegedly warrant remand. ( Id. )

B. Background

Plaintiff was born on May 2, 1965. (Tr. at 156.) She has an Bachelor of Science in Nursing and is certified as a Registered Nurse. ( Id. at 19.) Plaintiff alleges she fits into the definition of "disabled" and is entitled to SSDI benefits because she experiences chronic pain, diarrhea, a herniated disc in the lumber spine, adhesion-related disorder, neuropathy, abdominal pain, and medication side effects. ( Id. at 156-57, 175.) Furthermore, Plaintiff alleges severe impairments including nausea and vomiting, malabsorption syndrome and multiple onset partial intestinal obstructions, sleeplessness, constipation due to medication, hypertension, fatigue, and radiculopathy from a herniated disk. (Pl.'s Moving Br. 1-9.)

1. Plaintiff's Medical History

On March 11, 2005, Dr. Denehy performed abdominal surgery on Plaintiff due to "chronic salpingitis with endometriosis." (Tr. at 275.) Due to dense "fibrotic adhesions, " Dr. Denehy stated that it took nearly an hour and a half to enter the abdomen. ( !d.) Plaintiff experienced additional hospitalization and required additional abdominal surgery throughout most of October 2005. ( Id. at 429-31.) Throughout November 2005 to February 2006, Plaintiff continued to be diagnosed with nonspecific abdominal stress and continued to have severe pain and diarrhea. ( Id. at 818, 855.) In February 2006, Dr. Morgan stated that Plaintiff continued to experience lasting pain and diarrhea. ( Id. at 818.) Although Plaintiff showed improvement, she was again hospitalized due to abdomen pain in May 2007. ( Id. at 1013-14.) Dr. Cuppari also reported in October 2007 that plaintiff was limited to lifting a maximum of 15 pounds and sitting/walking/standing for 6 hours. ( Id. at 286-87.)

On August 28, 2007, Dr. Wroblewski examined Plaintiff and increased her pain patch dosage due to chronic low back pain. ( Id. at 997.) Dr. Orenberg examined Plaintiff, reporting in October and November 2007 that "there was a small area of colitis but otherwise normal study" regarding Plaintiffs lower intestine and later reported in November 2007 that Plaintiff seemed to be "feeling well." ( Id. 296, 302.) In October 2007, Dr. Morgan performed a colonoscopy on Plaintiff. ( Id. at 953.) Dr. Morgan stated that "[t]here was evidence of colitis of the ascending colon. The mucosa appeared erythematous. The colonoscopy was otherwise normal." ( Id. ) On October 22, 2008, Dr. Wroblewski again examined the patient and reported that she was limited to carrying 25 pounds, sitting/standing for up to 6 hours a day. ( ld. at 384.)

In April 2008, Dr. Gordan examined the patient and reported:

In summary, the only clear impairment appears to be related to the claimant's intra-abdominal adhesions. They have caused, and are surely still to cause, recurrent and irregular bouts of abdominal pain and changes in bowel function. Between such bouts, which her primary physician told me occurred at least for one week out of each month, and which the records indicate did abate at times, she would appear to have essentially normal function.

( Id. at 985-86.)

On November 12, 2009, Dr. Fechner, a non-examining physician, concluded that there was no organ damage to Plaintiff and her motor straight leg reflexes were all normal. ( Id. at 911.) Dr. Fechner also found that Plaintiff could occasionally lift 20 pounds, sit or walk in an 8 hour ...

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