United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
Robin L. King
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner Opinion No. 2016 DNH 149
A. DiClerico, Jr. United States District Judge
L. King seeks judicial review, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), of the decision of the Acting Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration, denying her application for
social security disability benefits. King contends that the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in failing
to find that she had additional severe impairments, in
finding that she did not meet Listing 1.04, and in evaluating
the credibility of her subjective complaints. The Acting
Commissioner moves to affirm.
reviewing the final decision of the Acting Commissioner in a
social security case, the court “is limited to
determining whether the ALJ deployed the proper legal
standards and found facts upon the proper quantum of
evidence.” Nguyen v. Chater, 172 F.3d 31, 35
(1st Cir. 1999); accord Seavey v. Barnhart, 276 F.3d
1, 9 (1st Cir. 2001). The court defers to the ALJ’s
factual findings as long as they are supported by substantial
evidence. § 405(g). “Substantial evidence is more
than a scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Astralis Condo. Ass’n v.
Sec’y Dep’t of Housing & Urban Dev., 620
F.3d 62, 66 (1st Cir. 2010).
King applied for social security disability benefits because
of meralgia paresthetica, leg numbness, and lower back
problems in October of 2012 when she was forty-six years old.
She had previously worked as a housekeeper, machine operator,
order picker, and temporary laborer.
medical evidence in the administrative record begins in
September of 2011 when King saw Dr. West because of right
knee pain. Despite tenderness in her knee, she had a full
range of motion and her neurological exam was
“non-focal” or normal. Dr. West diagnosed
tendonitis, obesity, hypertension, and depression. An x-ray
of her knee in March of 2012 showed osteoarthritic changes.
October of 2012, King had a lumbar spine MRI that showed
lumbar spine degenerative disc and facet disease. The x-ray
also showed moderate narrowing of the spinal canal at ¶
3/L4 and moderate right foraminal narrowing. At an
appointment in November of 2012, the nurse found that
King’s lumbar spinal area was tender, her leg reflexes
were diminished, but her straight leg test was normal. By
December, the nurse found that with medication King had no
acute distress despite back and thigh tenderness.
evaluation at the Pain Clinic in January of 2013, Dr. Ferns
noted King’s diagnosis of lumbar spine degenerative
disc and facet disease, that King had stopped working due to
pain, that her strength was normal, her muscular range of
motion was normal, her gait was normal, and she could walk
heel to toe. Dr. Ferns administered a nerve block for her
thigh pain. The next week King reported that the pain was
interfering with her ability to walk and do things at home
but her examination was normal except for lumbar tenderness.
King had another nerve block in February of 2013 but had no
relief from pain. Health care providers reported during
King’s appointments over the next six months that she
was experiencing symptoms of ankle swelling due to obesity.
Hugh Fairley, a state agency consultative physician, reviewed
King’s medical records of physical impairments. Dr.
Fairley found that King retained the ability to lift and
carry ten pounds, walk and stand for two hours in an
eight-hour day, sit for six hours with alternating between
sitting and standing, occasionally do postural activities,
and could not climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds.
hearing before an ALJ was held on King’s application on
October 6, 2014. King was represented by an attorney and
testified at the hearing. King provided her educational
background and her prior work experience. She described her
daily activities and said that she could not work because of
arthritis in her back. A vocational expert testified that
there were jobs in the relevant economies that King could do.
issued a decision on December 8, 2014. The ALJ found that
King had severe impairments due to bilateral meralgia
paresthetica and obesity but that King’s degenerative
disc and facet disease and right knee condition did not cause
severe impairment. He also found that King’s
impairments did not meet or equal a listed impairment and
considered Listing 11.14. The ALJ concluded that King had the
residual functional capacity to do light work under 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1567(b), without climbing ladders, scaffolds, and
ropes, and could do postural activities occasionally. With
that evaluation, the ALJ found that King could do her past
work as a housekeeper and could also do other jobs, such as
fast food worker, cashier, and price marker.
Appeals Council denied King’s request for review,
making the ALJ’s decision the Acting