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Campfield v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, District of Columbia

December 28, 2016

GERALDINE CAMPFIELD, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION ADOPTING REPORT & RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Geraldine Campfield applied to the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner” or “Defendant”) for disability benefits and supplemental security income benefits in 2012, claiming that she was disabled due to neck and back problems, as well as stiffness in her left hand. (AR, ECF No. 5-3, at 2.)[1] In May of 2014, an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) held a hearing on Campfield's application, and ultimately determined that she is not disabled under the Social Security Act. Proceeding pro se, Campfield has filed the instant lawsuit, requesting that this Court reverse the ALJ's denial decision and grant her benefits. (See generally Compl., ECF No. 1.)

         On September 17, 2015, this Court referred this matter to a Magistrate Judge for full case management. (See Min. Order of Sept. 17, 2015.) Five months later, Campfield filed a letter with enclosures in which she asked the Court “to go over my Medical Records, for the year of 2015; in hopes of ruling in my favor in reference to my current civil case.” (Letter from Geraldine Campfield, ECF No. 8, at 1; see also Id. at 2-50 (attaching additional records regarding her medical condition).) Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey construed Campfield's letter as a motion for judgment of reversal or for remand (see Min. Order of Feb. 4, 2016; Letter from Geraldine Campfield, ECF No. 9, at 1), and on March, 11, 2016, Defendant filed a motion for affirmance of the ALJ's decision, arguing “that substantial evidence of record supports the conclusion that Plaintiff was not disabled during the relevant period” (Def.'s Mem. in Supp. of Her Mot. for J. of Affirmance & in Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. for J. of Reversal, ECF No. 10, at 12).

         Before this Court at present is the comprehensive Report and Recommendation that Magistrate Judge Harvey has filed regarding Campfield's motion for reversal and Defendant's motion for affirmance. (See R. & R., ECF No. 15.)[2] The Report and Recommendation reflects Magistrate Judge Harvey's opinion that Campfield's motion for reversal should be denied, and that Defendant's motion for affirmance should be granted. (See Id. at 1-2, 42.) Specifically, Magistrate Judge Harvey finds that substantial evidence supports the ALJ's decision that Campfield was not disabled (see Id. at 25-36), and that the additional evidence that Campfield submitted in the instant proceeding would not have changed the outcome of the underlying action (see Id. at 36- 42.) The Report and Recommendation also advises the parties that the “failure to timely file objections to the findings and recommendations set forth in this report may waive the right of appeal from an order of the District Court adopting such findings and recommendations.” (Id. 42-43 (citing Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 154 (1985)).)

         Under this Court's local rules, any party who objects to a Report and Recommendation must file a written objection with the Clerk of the Court within 14 days of the party's receipt of the Report and Recommendation, and any such written objection must specify the portions of the findings and recommendations to which each objection is made and the basis for each such objection. See LCvR 73.2(b). On October 19, 2016-well outside of the 14-day window-Campfield filed with the Court a document entitled, “Notice of Material Facts . . . Left Out of My Social Security Claim[, ]” to which she attaches a one-page medical record from 2015, and 17 pages of medical records from 2016. (ECF No. 16, at 1; see also Id. at 2-19.) In addition to being untimely, this filing is not a proper objection to the Report and Recommendation, even under the “less stringent standards” to which federal courts hold pro se litigants, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), because it fails to specify either the portion of the findings and recommendations to which Plaintiff objects or the underlying basis for any such objection. Thus, as of the date of the instant Memorandum Opinion (more than five months after the Report and Recommendation was issued) no proper objections have been filed.

         This Court has reviewed Magistrate Judge Harvey's Report and Recommendation and agrees with its careful and thorough analysis and conclusions. In particular, the Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge that substantial evidence supports the ALJ's determinations that none of Campfield's impairments satisfy the requirements of the relevant Social Security regulatory listings (see R. & R. at 25-28); that Campfield's residual functioning capacity permits her to perform light work (see Id. at 28-33); that Campfield could return to her past work as a mail clerk (see Id. at 34); and that Campfield could adjust to other work available in the national economy (see Id. at 34- 36). As a result, this Court concurs with Magistrate Judge Harvey's conclusion that Campfield has “failed to successfully demonstrate that any part of the decision of the administrative law judge . . . was erroneous.” (Id. at 1.)

         The additional medical documentation that Campfield recently submitted does not provide any basis for rejecting Magistrate Judge Harvey's considered opinion, or for remanding this action to the Commissioner, for at least two reasons. First, to the extent that some of the records appear to document Campfield's clinical depression, that medical condition was not mentioned in Campfield's benefits application, and Magistrate Judge Harvey was correct to observe that Campfield's failure to seek benefits for depression in the underlying administrative proceeding prevents her from doing so now. (See Id. at 37; ECF No. 16, at 2-18.) Second, although the additional medical document regarding Campfield's spine and lower extremities indicates that she may indeed suffer from a qualifying impairment under the relevant Social Security regulations (see R. & R. at 38-39; ECF No. 16, at 19), the Magistrate Judge already considered similar documentation, and his Report and Recommendation rightly concludes that this proof falls short of establishing a necessary element of Campfield's claim for benefits; namely, that she “suffers from motor loss, spinal arachnoiditis, or an inability to ambulate effectively” (R. & R. at 40 (citing 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App. 1, § 1.04A-C)). Consequently, this additional evidence would not have changed the outcome of the administrative proceeding even if it had been submitted below, and it therefore provides no basis for disturbing either the ALJ's or Magistrate Judge Harvey's ruling. See Jones v. Astrue, 647 F.3d 350, 358 (D.C. Cir. 2011).

         In sum, in the absence of any timely-filed objections, and after conducting its own review of this matter, this Court accepts Magistrate Judge Harvey's analysis of the ALJ's findings and the record evidence in full, and will ADOPT the Report and Recommendation in its entirety. Accordingly, Plaintiff's [8] Motion for Judgment of Reversal will be DENIED, and Defendant's [10] Motion for Judgment of Affirmance will be GRANTED.

         A separate Order accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.

         Appendix A

         UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

         GERALDINE CAMPFIELD Plaintiff, v.

         CAROLYN W. COLVIN, in her official capacity as Acting Commissioner of Social Security Defendant.

         Case No. 15-cv-1507 (KBJ/GMH)

         REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

         This matter was referred to the undersigned for full case management. In this action, Plaintiff Geraldine Campfield, proceeding pro se, seeks reversal of a decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her benefits pursuant to the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Before the undersigned are Plaintiff's motion for judgment of reversal and Defendant's motion for judgment of affirmance. Plaintiff's briefing in support of her motion consists of two letters to the Court with several medical records attached to each. Neither letter contains any assertions of error or supporting legal arguments. Plaintiff has therefore failed to successfully demonstrate that any part of the decision of the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) was erroneous. Moreover, having reviewed the administrative record and Plaintiff's additional medical records, the undersigned detects no basis for remand or any reversible error in the ALJ's decision. Thus, upon review of the entire record, [1] the undersigned recommends that Plaintiff's motion be denied and Defendant's motion be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         A. Legal Framework for Social Security Disability Claims

         To be eligible for disability benefits under the Social Security Act, a claimant must be found to be disabled by the Social Security Administration (“SSA”). 42 U.S.C. § 423(a). In most cases, to determine whether a claimant is disabled within the meaning of the Act, an ALJ gathers evidence, holds a hearing, takes testimony, and performs a five-step legal evaluation of the claimant using that evidence. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520.

         In that evaluation, the ALJ must determine whether: (1) the claimant is “presently engaged in substantial gainful activity”; (2) the claimant has a “medically severe impairment or impairments”; (3) the claimant's impairment is equivalent to one of the impairments listed in the appendix of the relevant disability regulation; (4) the impairment prevents the claimant from performing his past relevant work; and (5) the claimant, in light of his age, education, work experience, and residual functioning capacity (“RFC”), can still perform another job that is available in the national economy. Id. A claimant's RFC is his ability to perform either past relevant work or any other work available in the national economy. See Butler v. Barnhart, 353 F.3d 992, 1000 (D.C. Cir. 2004). According to Social Security Ruling (“SSR”) 96-8p, “RFC is an administrative assessment of the extent to which an individual's medically determinable impairment(s), including any related symptoms, such as pain, may cause physical or mental limitations or restrictions that may affect his or her capacity to do work-related physical and mental activities” in a work setting for eight hours per day, five days a week, or an equivalent work schedule. Titles II & XVI: Assessing Residual Functional Capacity in Initial Claims, SSR 96-8p, 1996 WL 374184, at *2 (July 2, 1996).[2] In short, it represents the most a claimant is able to do notwithstanding his physical or mental limitations. See Butler, 353 F.3d at 1000.

         The claimant bears the burden of proof in the first four steps of the evaluation. Callahan v. Astrue, 786 F.Supp.2d 87, 89 (D.D.C. 2011). At step five, however, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to identify specific jobs available in the national economy that the claimant can perform. Id. .In making this determination, an ALJ may call a vocational expert (“VE”) to testify as to whether a claimant can perform other work that exists in the national economy. Id. at 90. A VE may draw her conclusions from a number of sources, including the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (“DOT”). Id. The DOT, last published by the U.S. Department of Labor in 1991, provides a brief description of occupations within the national economy and lists the capabilities that each occupation requires of a worker. See generally Introduction to DOT (4th ed. 1991), available at 1991 WL 645964. Along with VE testimony, the SSA generally relies on the DOT to determine if there are jobs in the national economy that a claimant can perform given his RFC. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.966-416.969.

         B. Relevant Facts

         1. Plaintiff Geraldine Campfield

         At the time of the alleged onset of her disability, Plaintiff was a 51-year-old woman residing in the District of Columbia. AR 19. She reached the 10th grade in high school and never acquired a high school equivalent degree. Id. at 33. Plaintiff previously worked as a mail clerk for twelve years. Id. at 19, 238.[3]

         2. Plaintiff's Application for Benefits

         On July 13, 2012, Plaintiff filed applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act, respectively. Id. at 56. Plaintiff alleged disability beginning May 8, 2012, due to neck and back problems as well as stiffness in her left hand. Id. On August 8, 2012, the Commissioner initially denied Plaintiff's claims, determining that her current symptoms were not severe enough to keep her from working. Id. at 95. Plaintiff requested reconsideration of that decision, but the Commissioner again denied her claims on December 5, 2012, citing medical reports that showed her ability to perform some less physically demanding types of work despite her pain in the back, neck, and hand. Id. at 106. On February 1, 2013, Plaintiff filed a written request for a hearing, which the Commissioner granted. Id. at 118-19. Plaintiff appeared and testified at a hearing held before an ALJ on May 13, 2014. Id. at 29-54. On June 25, 2014, the ALJ denied Plaintiff's claims on the grounds that she could return to her past work as a mail clerk and that she was capable of performing “light work” available in the national economy. Id. at 20.[4]

         Plaintiff appealed the ALJ's decision, and on August 3, 2015, the Social Security Appeals Council denied her request for review. Id. at 1-3. The ALJ's decision thus became the Commissioner's final decision, see Ryan v. Bentsen, 12 F.3d 245, 247 (D.C. Cir. 1993), and Plaintiff then commenced this action for review of that decision.

         3. The Administrative Record

         An administrative hearing was held in this case before an ALJ. AR 29-54. During this hearing, Plaintiff testified and was represented by counsel. Id. at 29. The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's symptoms based on evidence in the administrative record, including medical records and opinions, Plaintiff's statements, and testimony from a VE. The undersigned recounts the relevant portions of the administrative record below.

         a. Dr. Jeff Jacobson - Treating Physician

         On May 8, 2009, Plaintiff underwent an MRI which revealed multi-level cervical spondylosis, cord flattening, and central stenosis at the C5-C6 vertebra. Id. at 320. Plaintiff was diagnosed with a herniated disc, cervical spondylosis, [5] and cervical myelopathy.[6] Id. at 696. On July 21, 2009, Dr. Jeff Jacobson, a neurologist, performed an anterior cervical discectomy[7] and fusion at ¶ 5-C6 to alleviate Plaintiff's condition. Id. During a follow-up evaluation on September 21, 2009, Dr. Jacobson observed that Plaintiff was recovering adequately. Id. at 706.[8]He recommended outpatient physical therapy and “ultimately [felt] that she should be able to return to the work force.” Id.

         Plaintiff visited Wanda Evans, a physical therapist, on October 15, 2009, reporting difficulty sleeping due to pain in her neck, shoulder, and right arm. Id. at 418-19. Ms. Evans instructed Plaintiff to perform home exercises, but Plaintiff later reported to Ms. Evans that she did not complete them. Id. at 433. On November 11, 2009, Plaintiff visited Dr. Douglas Vanzoeren with complaints of pain caused by returning to work “too soon.” Id. at 430. Plaintiff claimed that her neurologist advised her “not [to] return to work before the end of the year, ” but her employer found that “the documentation for this was insufficient.” Id.

         b. Drs. Cesar Torres and Mary Rae - Treating Physicians

         On April 20, 2012, Plaintiff reported pain in her left shoulder to Dr. Cesar Torres, her primary care physician. Id. at 362. He recommended that Plaintiff rest her shoulder, apply ice to the area, and take over-the-counter pain relievers to manage the pain. Id. at 363. In addition, Dr. Torres instructed Plaintiff to perform range of motion exercises at home and to return to the clinic if her symptoms worsened or failed to improve. Id. Plaintiff returned on May 4, 2012, reporting that her pain persisted and that the over-the-counter medication was unhelpful. Id. at 359. Dr. Torres ordered an X-ray of Plaintiff's shoulder, prescribed a muscle relaxant, and excused her from work until May 7, 2012. Id. at 360, 707. Moreover, Dr. Torres instructed Plaintiff not to use her left shoulder at work before her follow-up appointment on May 18, 2012. See id. at 707.

         At the follow-up appointment, an examination of Plaintiff's shoulder revealed signs of impingement syndrome, so Dr. Torres recommended treatment with a steroid injection. Id. at 357-58. Plaintiff declined the injection, preferring medication instead. Id. at 358. Dr. Torres prescribed an anti-inflammatory drug, referred Plaintiff to an orthopedic clinic, and scheduled an additional follow-up appointment for June 6, 2012. Id. at 358, 708. He extended Plaintiff's leave of absence from work until that appointment. Id. at 708.

         On May 25, 2012, Plaintiff visited Dr. Mary Rae, an orthopedic physician assistant, who performed a physical examination of Plaintiff's spine and left arm. Id. at 301. This examination revealed tenderness at Plaintiff's left shoulder and neck and slight limitations to her spine's lateral bending and flexion. Id. An X-ray also revealed calcification of Plaintiff's distal rotator cuff, but no fracture, dislocation, or other significant degenerative changes. Id. Dr. Rae diagnosed Plaintiff with tendinitis in her left shoulder. Id. at 299. She recommended a steroid injection, over-the-counter pain relievers, and no left-arm activity. Id. at 301. On June 6, 2012, Dr. Rae administered a steroid injection to Plaintiff's left shoulder and told her to return in a few weeks if the symptoms worsened or did not improve. Id. at 295-96.

         That same day, Plaintiff returned to Dr. Torres for her next follow-up appointment. See id. at 340. During this visit, Dr. Torres observed that Plaintiff could not “elevate [her] left shoulder to any extent” and doubted the possibility of an extensive recovery. Id. at 340-41. He extended Plaintiff's leave of absence until June 15, 2012, for a “final eval[uation] to return to work.” Id. at 341, 710. During that evaluation, Dr. Torres observed pain and decreased range of motion in her left shoulder. Id. at 338. He diagnosed her with a left rotator cuff tear and referred her for an orthopedic specialist consultation. Id. at 338-39. Once again, Dr. Torres extended Plaintiff's leave of absence from work until that consultation, which he anticipated would occur on approximately July 6, 2012. Id. at 712.

         On June 21, 2012, Dr. Torres reviewed the results from Plaintiff's left shoulder X-ray, finding evidence of tendinitis but no indications of a full thickness tear in Plaintiff's rotator cuff. Id. at 388-89. According to the administrative record, Plaintiff did not visit Dr. Torres again until April 3, 2014. See id. at 724. During this visit, Dr. Torres diagnosed Plaintiff with cervical radiculopathy[9] and spinal stenosis[10] in her cervical spine. Id. He instructed Plaintiff to treat these conditions with two daily doses of morphine. Id. Based on her current treatment records, see infra Part B.6, Plaintiff no longer takes morphine or any other narcotic for pain.

         c. Dr. Omar Akhtar - Consultative Physician

         Plaintiff visited Dr. Omar Akhtar, an orthopedic specialist, on June 20, 2012, pursuant to Dr. Torres' referral. Id. at 333. Plaintiff reported an aching, sharp, stabbing, and throbbing pain in her left shoulder, which she rated as an 8 out of 10. Id. Dr. Akhtar diagnosed Plaintiff with severe shoulder inflammation and opined that she had “possible nerve irritation in her neck.” Id. at 713. He excused her from working for the next six weeks. Id. To treat Plaintiff's conditions, Dr. Akhtar opined that physical therapy would improve her range of motion and that Plaintiff's cervical spine pain was not causing her shoulder pain. Id. at 336. Dr. Akhtar further opined that Plaintiff “may or may not” benefit from rotator cuff surgery, but he noted concerns regarding post-operative stiffness if Plaintiff could not improve her range of motion. Id. Finally, he ordered an X-ray and MRI to evaluate Plaintiff's lower cervical spine. Id.

         On June 24, 2012, Dr. Akhtar evaluated Plaintiff's X-ray and MRI results. Id. at 383, 386. The X-ray revealed no evidence of a C5-C6 fusion change, or of a fracture or hardware complication from her surgery on July 21, 2009. Id. at 386-87. Plaintiff's MRI showed “[d]egenerative disc disease . . . with up to moderate neural foraminal and minimal central canal stenosis[.]” Id. at 385.

         d. Yvette Francis - Physical Therapist

         On June 25, 2012, Plaintiff saw Yvette Francis, a physical therapist, claiming to hear a clicking or popping noise in her left shoulder that was accompanied by a burning sensation. Id. at 330. Ms. Francis recommended that Plaintiff administer a cold pack to the area for ten or twelve minutes daily. Id. at 330-31. She considered Plaintiff “a good rehab candidate, ” opining that Plaintiff would be able to perform her job-related duties (i.e., lifting thirty to forty-five pounds of mail matter) within nine or ten physical therapy appointments. Id. at 331-32. On July 17, 2012, Plaintiff reported an inability to work, due to weakness in her left side and severe pain that increased by sitting, laying down, or turning her head. Id. at 323. Ms. Francis treated Plaintiff's symptoms with a cold pack and noted tenderness and decreased range of motion along Plaintiff's cervical spine. Id. at 324. Ms. Francis decided that more therapy sessions were required to determine whether Plaintiff was an “appropriate candidate that can benefit from [physical therapy] services.” Id.

         During a session on July 25, 2012, Plaintiff rated her neck pain as a 6 out of 10, which increased when she was active. Id. at 322. She was unable to tolerate her neck being touched, so Ms. Francis recommended that Plaintiff visit a pain management center (“PMC”). Id. Plaintiff returned to Ms. Francis on August 9, 2012, again reporting severe neck pain. Id. at 510. She also reported making an appointment with a PMC in late August. Id. Ms. Francis determined that Plaintiff was experiencing no improvement from physical therapy and discharged her to the PMC. Id.

         e. Drs. Hwei Lin and Vrishali Dalvi - Consultative Physicians

         Dr. Torres referred Plaintiff to Dr. Hwei Lin, an anesthesiologist, and on August 22, 2012, Plaintiff reported an aching shoulder pain that worsened by sitting, walking, and lifting. Id. at 505. She rated her pain as a 9 out of 10. Id. Dr. Lin opined that she had adhesive capsulitis of the left shoulder. Id. at 508.[11] Dr. Lin recommended a steroid injection, but Plaintiff first wanted to try pain-relieving medications. Id. During a later visit on November 27, 2013, Dr. Lin diagnosed Plaintiff with cervical radiculitis. Id. at 714.[12]

         On October 15, 2013, Plaintiff saw Dr. Vrishali Dalvi, a rheumatologist, for knee and back pain. Id. at 718. Specifically, Plaintiff reported pain in her right knee and lower back that over-the-counter medications could not alleviate. Id. She also reported that she discontinued Dr. Lin's prescribed medications because she believed that some were ineffective and others caused rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath. Id. Dr. Dalvi recommended that Plaintiff treat her symptoms by applying capsaicin cream, taking Aleve, and attempting regular exercise. Id. at 719. Dr. Dalvi also ordered an MRI of Plaintiff's lumbar spine. Id. at 722. That MRI revealed trace disc desiccation[13] and disc bulging at the L3-L4 and L4-L5 vertebra, but the radiologist observed no acute fractures or subluxation.[14] Id. at 723. He did, however, find multilevel spondylotic changes at the L4-L5 and L5-S1 vertebra. Id.

         f. Drs. Esther Pinder and Alex Hemphill - State Medical Consultants

         Dr. Esther Pinder, an SSA consultative physician, evaluated Plaintiff's initial disability claim on August 7, 2012, and determined that Plaintiff could occasionally lift twenty pounds, frequently carry ten pounds, stand or walk for six hours during an eight-hour workday, and sit for six hours during an eight-hour workday. Id. at 69. She also determined that Plaintiff's left arm could not push, pull, or reach and that she could never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. Id. Dr. Pinder noted that Plaintiff is right-handed, able to drive a car, and able “to do most household chores.” Id. at 70. Dr. Pinder ultimately found that Plaintiff was not disabled because the evidence indicated “no significant muscle weakness or loss control . . . secondary to nerve damage, ” Plaintiff could use her right arm “without difficulty, ” and she could “stand, walk, and move about.” Id. at 72. Dr. Pinder opined that Plaintiff could perform “light work.” Id. at 71.

         On December 3, 2012, another SSA physician, Dr. Alex Hemphill, evaluated Plaintiff's disability claim during its reconsideration. Id. at 82. Plaintiff reported shortness of breath and difficulty grooming, dressing, and bathing. Id. at 76. Like Dr. Pinder, Dr. Hemphill determined that Plaintiff could occasionally lift twenty pounds, frequently carry ten pounds, stand or walk for six hours during an eight-hour workday, and sit for six hours during an eight-hour workday. Id. at 80. Dr. Hemphill further agreed with Dr. Pinder's determinations regarding Plaintiff's degree of mobility, use of her right arm, and lack of muscle weakness. See id. at 83. Dr. Hemphill also found that Plaintiff's impairments precluded her from pushing, pulling, or reaching with her left arm and from climbing ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. Id. at 80-81. Like Dr. Pinder, Dr. Hemphill opined that Plaintiff could perform “light work.” Id. at 82.

         g. Plaintiff's Testimony

         On October 2, 2012, Plaintiff stated in her function report, submitted as part of her application for benefits, that she can drive a car, shop at the grocery store twice per month for thirty minutes, and handle her own finances. Id. at 261. As for other household activities, Plaintiff reported preparing her own meals twice weekly and ironing her clothes, but she experienced difficulty cleaning her bathroom and dusting. Id. at 260. She also reported difficulty taking showers, dressing herself, and putting her hair in a ponytail. Id. at 259. Plaintiff represented that she cannot walk more than half a block without resting for ten minutes, that she drops objects when handling them for too long, and that she has problems returning to a standing position after kneeling, bending, and squatting. Id. at 263. Plaintiff stated that her “balance isn't good.” Id. at 264. Finally, Plaintiff claimed that her attention span is “very short.” Id. at 262.

         During the administrative hearing, Plaintiff reported that she stopped working on May 8, 2012, due to problems with her back, neck, and left arm. Id. at 35. She testified that working as a mail clerk required “writing on forms, checking mail, lifting, [and] pulling cages.” Id. at 34. Plaintiff received long-term disability benefits until February 10, 2014, when she asked Dr. Torres for a note recommending that she could return to work. Id. at 46-47, 50.[15] The note, Plaintiff claims, prohibited her from heavy lifting, pushing, and pulling, and restricted her to three hours of work. Id. at 50. However, Plaintiff's employer did not permit her to return to work, and she subsequently lost her disability benefits. Id. She stated that Dr. Torres prescribed pain medications for her neck problems, which “eases the pain a little, ” but she is “try[ing] to wean [her]self off it” without informing Dr. Torres because the medication impairs her ability to focus. Id. at 37. Plaintiff stated that the medication was Percocet, though no records indicate that Dr. Torres prescribed Percocet to her.[16] Plaintiff alleged that the medication's effects lasted up to four hours. Id. at 48. According to Plaintiff, she cannot stand longer than twenty minutes, sit longer than thirty minutes, or lift more than ten pounds without excruciating pain. Id. at 39. She also reported walking approximately a quarter of a mile approximately three times per week and attending church every Sunday, wherein she must alternate between sitting and standing. Id. at 46. She testified that she attended a concert at Constitution Hall on February 14, 2014. Id.

         h. The ...


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