United States District Court, D. Minnesota
REGINALD L. JANNSON, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
Gary A. Ficek, Attorney at Law, 15 Broadway Ste. 301, Fargo, ND 58102 for Plaintiff.
Ana H. Voss, Assistant United States Attorney, 600 United States Courthouse, 300 S. 4th Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55415, for Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
TONY N. LEUNG, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Reginald L. Jannson brings the present action, disputing Defendant Commissioner of Social Security's denial of his application for social security disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income ("SSI"). This matter is before the Court, United States Magistrate Judge Tony N. Leung, on the parties' cross motions for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth herein, this Court will recommend Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 11) be denied, the Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 13) be granted, and this matter be dismissed with prejudice.
A. Procedural History
Jannson filed for DIB and SSI on February 3, 2010, alleging disability beginning March 28, 2008, due to chronic knee pain and affective/mood disorders. (R. 78.) Jannson's claim was denied initially (R. 78-81) and on reconsideration. (R. 82-85.) On October 19, 2011, Plaintiff, with counsel, had a hearing before ALJ Eskunder Boyd. (R. 36-75.)
In his November 14, 2011 opinion (R. 16-35), the ALJ concluded as follows: Jannson has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 28, 2008. (R. 21.) Jannson suffered from a left meniscal tear, disc protrusion at L5-S1 with lower back pain and radiculitis to both legs, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, obesity, depression and anxiety disorder, and personality disorder with history of aggressive behavior. (R. 21.) Jannson did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App. 1. (R. 21.) Jannson had the residual capacity to
perform sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) except [Jannson] can only occasionally use his legs for operating foot controls. He can never climb ladders/ropes/scaffolds and can occasionally climb ramps and stairs. [Jannson] can occasionally balance and crouch and can frequently stoop, kneel, or crawl. [Jannson] cannot work around hazards or machinery. [Jannson] requires a sit/stand option to sit for 30 minutes before arising/shifting positions. [Jannson] is limited to performing simple and detailed, but not complex tasks. He can maintain sufficient concentration, pace, and persistence for 2-4 hours. [Jannson] is limited to brief and superficial contact with co-workers or the public.
(R. 23.) Jannson was unable to perform any past relevant work, but considering his age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, Plaintiff could perform all or substantially all of the requirements of unskilled sedentary occupations such as eyeglass assembler, lens inserter, and stuffer. (R. 27-28.) These are all jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy. (R. 27-28.) The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had not been under a disability within the meaning of the Social Security Act since March 28, 2008. (R. 28.)
Jannson requested review of the ALJ's decision, and the Appeals Council denied the request. (R. 1-5.)
B. Employment Background
Jannson worked as a forklift operator from August 1993 to October 1998. (R. 286.) Jannson then worked as a fast food cook from February 1999 to October 1999. (R. 286.) From November 2000 to March 2008, Jannson worked intermittently as a temporary laborer. (R. 286.) From April 2004 to April 2006, Jannson worked in a pizza maker factory. (R. 286.)
C. Medical Records
On October 8, 2007, Jannson injured his left knee in a fall while he was working at Top Taste in Finley, North Dakota. (R. 299, 301.) Numerous x-rays were taken of his hip, pelvis and knee; the treating physicians noted no abnormalities. (R. 299.) At his follow-up appointment, Jannson was diagnosed with a left knee sprain. (R. 299-300.) The treating physician ordered Jannson not to put any weight on his left leg, to use crutches to ambulate, to take vicodin as needed for the pain, and to be fitted with a knee immobilizer. (R. 300.)
Jannson returned to the doctor on October 11, 2007, to reevaluate his left knee. (R. 294-95, 297.) He rated his pain an 8 out of 10 and reported using crutches 100% of the time. (R. 294, 297.) The treating physician was unable to perform a McMurray's test because Jannson's injured leg would neither straighten nor bend. (R. 297.) Jannson was told to continue using his crutches and his knee immobilizer; to limit his lifting, pushing and pulling to 5 pounds; to sit 75% of the time; not to climb stairs or ladders; and not to kneel or squat. (R. 297-98.)
Jannson returned to the emergency room on October 19, 2007, complaining that his knee "gave out" and he reinjured it. (R. 325.) The treating physician noted that Jannson's patella was tender, but he could not tell whether there was a joint effusion and detected no gross instability. (R. 325.) Medial and lateral cruciate testing seemed grossly stable, and Jannson's patella seemed to tract normally. (R. 325.) The treating physician opined that it was possible that Jannson could have had a meniscus injury or joint mouse from the initial injury on October 8. (R. 326.)
Jannson revisited the doctor on October 22, 2007. (R. 296.) At this visit, he rated his pain a 7 out of 10. (R. 296.) His physician noted difficulty performing a full examination of Jannson's knee because of the size of his legs. (R. 296.) Jannson was reissued the same work restrictions and told to follow up in 7 to 10 days. (R. 296.)
Jannson visited the doctor again on November 5, 2007. (R. 294-95.) At this visit, he rated his pain an 8 out of 10. (R. 294.) Jannson's physician set an appointment for Jannson to be reevaluated by orthopedic surgery. (R. 294.) Overall, the treating physician noted no changes since Jannson's previous visit. (R. 294.)
On February 19, 2008, Dr. Michael B. Simpson examined Jannson at MeritCare Clinic Southpointe Orthopaedics ("Southpointe"). (R. 328-29.) Jannson rated his pain at a 6 or 7. (R. 330.) Dr. Simpson noted that Jannson could hold his left leg in an extended position but that he had some gradual weakness that appeared to be more of a fade than a give way. (R. 328.) His left knee had increased patellar mobility when compared to his right, and some mild medial joint line tenderness. (R. 328.) A CT scan revealed some soft tissue swelling but no acute bony abnormality. (R. 328.)
Jannson followed up at Southpointe on April 1, 2008, after undergoing electromyograms and an MRI. (R. 331.) At this visit, he rated his pain a 7 out of 10. (R. 375.) The examining physician noted fibrillation potentials in Jannson's bilateral gastroc-soleus muscles and chronic neurogenic motor unit potential changes in his distal lower extremity muscles. (R. 333.) There appeared some abnormalities, but no evidence of a definite left femoral neuropathy or left L4 radiculopathy. (R. 333.) His MRI revealed a possible lateral meniscal tear. (R. 331.)
Jannson returned to the doctor on April 18, 2008. (R. 292.) Examination of his knees revealed flexion to a full 135 degrees and hyperextension of 10 degrees, but no loss of recurvatum and no deformities of his knees. (R. 292.) At this appointment, Jannson was able to weightbear for more than 4 steps bilaterally without pain. (R. 292.) Jannson returned to the doctor on May 13, 2008. (R. 334-337.) He rated his pain at 8 or 9 out of 10. (R. 334.) He was taking Vicodin as needed for pain, but he was not doing any physical therapy. (R. 334.)
Jannson was diagnosed with diabetes on July 17, 2009. (R. 425.) On July 28, 2009, Jannson was admitted to Prairie St. John's to treat depression and suicidal ideation that had persisted for a few months. (R. 431, 440.) During his stay at Prairie St. John's, his sleep improved and he was eating well and feeling better. (R. 432.) He was discharged on August 4, 2009. (R. 432.) Jannson had a follow-up appointment for his depression on October 28, 2009. (R. 446.) He presented as alert and orientated, he asked appropriate questions and answered ...