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Bjork v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Arizona

July 6, 2016

Bonnie Dee Bjork, Plaintiff,
v.
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Leslie A. Bowman United States Magistrate Judge

         The plaintiff filed this action for review of the final decision of the Commissioner for Social Security pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         The Magistrate Judge presides over this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) having received the written consent of both parties. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 73; (Doc. 14)

         The court finds that the ALJ's determination of Bjork's disability onset date is supported by substantial evidence and free from legal error.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On October 13, 2011, Bjork filed for disability insurance benefits pursuant to Title II of the Social Security Act and supplemental security income pursuant to Title XVI. (Tr. 108-109) She alleged disability beginning on March 1, 2010, due to "back injury" and "scoliosis." (Tr. 14, 263) Her claims were denied initially (Tr. 110-114; 115-122) and upon reconsideration (Tr. 123-127, 128-132). Bjork requested review and appeared with counsel at a hearing before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Norman R. Buls on October 2, 2013. (Tr. 14-22) In his decision, dated February 12, 2014, the ALJ found Bjork was disabled as of October 13, 2011, her application date. (Tr. 14-22) Because Bjork's last insured date was March 31, 2011, her Title II application was denied, but her Title XVI application was granted.

         Bjork appealed and submitted additional exhibits, but the Appeals Council denied review making the decision of the ALJ the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-5) Bjork subsequently filed this action appealing that final decision. (Doc. 1) She argues the case should be remanded because "there is no ‘legitimate medical basis' in the record for the ALJ's assigned [disability] onset date." (Doc. 17, p. 4)

         Claimant's Work History and Medical History

         Between November of 2009 and February of 2010, Bjork worked as a cashier/stockroom worker at Citi Trends. (Tr. 281) On December 26, 2009, she twisted her back placing a box of sensor tags on a pulley. (Tr. 40, 47, 328)

         Bjork was treated by Anthony E. Perrotti, D.O. for her work-related back injury. (Tr. 328) Treatment began on January 2, 2010. (Tr. 361, 328) Bjork's diagnosis was "sprain lumbar region, sprain thoracic region." (Tr. 327) X-ray studies on January 5, 2010 revealed "normal thoracic spine; incidentally noted is mild dextroconvex scoliosis of the thoracolumbar spine." (Tr. 337) (punctuation modified) Treatment concluded on January 28, 2010 when Bjork was released with no functional limitations. (Tr. 361, 328)

         Bjork testified at the hearing that she was later fired from Citi Trends because her employer refused to allow her to work part-time. (Tr. 42-43)

         Bjork's last insured date for Title II purposes was March 31, 2011. (Tr. 14)

         From May of 2011 to August of 2011, Bjork worked at the Majestic Gardens condominiums performing janitorial and maintenance work for 20 hours per week. (Tr. 40, 253-254, 281, 282) She picked up the mail and did some filing. (Tr. 54) She watered the plants. Id. She picked up garbage and palm fronds, cleaned the pool areas and restrooms, and mopped the floors. (Tr. 282) During this period, Bjork received workmens' compensation benefits and held herself out as able to work. (Tr. 42) Bjork reported that she exacerbated her back pain in August of 2011. (Tr. 488)

         Bjork was examined on November 16, 2011 by Stanford A. Williamson, D.O., for the disability determination services. (Tr. 488-490) Williamson diagnosed "chronic low back pain, with signs of left sacroiliac joint involvement." (Tr. 490) X-ray studies of Bjork's spine were taken on November 17, 2011. (Tr. 494) David Frank, M.D., found ...


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