United States District Court, D. Arizona
J. MARKOVICH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Zelpha Tami Zimmerman brought this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking judicial review of a final
decision by the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”). Plaintiff raises two issues on
appeal: 1) the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
erred by failing to give germane reasons before rejecting the
limitations suggested by Karen Lunda's functional
capacity evaluation report; and 2) the ALJ erred by failing
to evaluate Plaintiff's symptoms pursuant to Social
Security Ruling (“SSR”) 16-3p. (Doc. 15).
the Court are Plaintiff's Opening Brief, Defendant's
Response, and Plaintiff's Reply. (Docs. 15, 22, &
25). The United States Magistrate Judge has received the
written consent of both parties and presides over this case
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Rule 73, Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons stated below, the
Court finds that this matter should be remanded for further
administrative proceedings. . . .
filed an application for social security disability benefits
on December 13, 2013. (Administrative Record
(“AR”) 133). Plaintiff alleged disability
beginning on November 26, 2013 based on inability to walk,
severed tendons in both feet, and bilateral ankle problems.
(AR 67). Plaintiff's application was denied upon initial
review (AR 73) and on reconsideration (AR 80). A hearing was
held on August 1, 2016 (AR 36), after which ALJ Yasmin Elias
found, at Step Four, that Plaintiff was not disabled because
she could perform her past relevant work as an optician. (AR
25). On January 24, 2018 the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request to review the ALJ's decision. (AR
date last insured (“DLI”) for DIB purposes is
December 31, 2018. (AR 19). Thus, to be eligible for
benefits, Plaintiff must prove that she was disabled during
the time period of her alleged onset date (“AOD”)
of November 26, 2013 and her DLI of December 31, 2018.
was born on February 3, 1964, making her 49 years old at the
AOD of her disability. (AR 67). She completed two years of
college and has worked as a licensed optician since 1990. (AR
December 18, 2012 Plaintiff was seen for evaluation of left
thumb pain. (AR 250). X-rays showed basal joint arthritis,
subluxation mild, some loss of joint space, and some
sclerosis, and Plaintiff opted to treat with a splint.
February 8, 2012 Plaintiff reported severe headaches on a
daily basis, was forgetful, and losing her balance. (AR 410).
February 1, 2013 Plaintiff reported an average of two
headaches monthly, lasting several days at time, associated
with visual changes. (AR 387). She also had occasional head
tremor and clenching of the right arm.
March 21, 2013 Plaintiff reported severe headaches in the
right temporal area that come and go, not relieved with
Aleve, Imitrex, or Vicodin. (AR 389).
April 11, 2013 Plaintiff reported her headaches were improved
with Topamax. (AR 385). She also reported almost daily left
arm shaking, and vague left eye visual changes at night.
August 2, 2013 Plaintiff was seen for left foot and ankle
pain and reported significant pain with weightbearing, worse
with activity. (AR 248). The impression was heel cord
tendinitis and bilateral plantar fasciitis, and she was
recommended for shoe orthosis and dorsiflexion splint.
September 13, 2013 Plaintiff complained of left ankle pain
after rolling her ankle and was referred for a MRI. (AR 246).
October 8, 2013 Plaintiff reported a significant amount of
pain in the feet and ankles that limited her activity. (AR
244). Plaintiff rejected injections and casting and was
recommended to do stretching, physical therapy, wear a boot,
and limit weightbearing on the left.
November 7, 2013 Plaintiff was doing physical therapy and was
slightly better, but reported right ankle problems and
instability and was referred for a MRI. (AR 242).
November 26, 2013 Plaintiff reported significant left foot
pain. (AR 240). The MRI showed some changes in the navicular
joints consistent with arthritis, fibrocartilaginous
calcaneonavicular coalition, and some evidence of
osteochondral lesion. She chose to have surgery on the left
foot for excision of the calcaneonavicular coalition and
release of the plantar fascia.
December 4, 2013 Plaintiff had surgery on her left foot. (AR
December 16, 2013 Plaintiff had minimal complaints of pain
after surgery. (AR 238).
January 7, 2014 Plaintiff was doing well and complained of
mild pain and stiffness, and was referred for physical
therapy. (AR 236).
February 7, 2014 Plaintiff complained of mild discomfort and
had a mild limp; range of motion was significantly improved
with PT but she still had problems with long walks. (AR 234).
9, 2014 Plaintiff reported bilateral thumb and hand pain, and
ring and small fingers catching and locking. (AR 228).
Plaintiff reported months to years of joint pain in her
thumbs, but recently getting worse and over the counter
medications not helping. The assessment was lateral thumb CMC
arthritis, left worse than right, and swan-neck
deformity/locking of bilateral ring and small fingers.
Plaintiff did not want an injection but would try a brace and
12, 2014 Plaintiff had an ankle sprain and contusion after
she rolled her ankle and a trashcan fell on her. (AR 224).
X-rays of the ankle showed no abnormalities.
13, 2014 Plaintiff was doing significantly better after
surgery and with PT, complaining of less pain, and walking
better. (AR 221).
3, 2014 Plaintiff had improved hand arthritis and de
Quervain's after injections, no numbness and tingling, no
locking or clicking, and no sharp pains. (AR 219).
October 6, 2014 Plaintiff reported pain in both ankles, worse
with activity, and episodes of popping and rolling. (AR 273).
On exam she had some tenderness with palpation, full range of
motion, no swelling on the right, and walked with a slight
October 9, 2014 Plaintiff reported headaches for the past 3-4
months. (AR 367).
October 16, 2014 Plaintiff had a MRI of the right ankle which
showed calcaneonavicular coalition, mild posterior tibialis
tendinosis, moderate middle and anterior subtalar joint
degenerative arthrosis, mild/moderate plantar fasciitis, and
mild sinus tarsi edema. (AR 265-67). A MRI of the left ankle
showed bifurcate ligament sprain, low-grade extensor
digitorum brevis strain, and mild insertional posterior
tibialis tendinosis. (AR 269-71).
November 14, 2014 Plaintiff had pain in the left ankle after
a twisting injury and was recommended to continue using her
ankle brace, icing, and inflammatory medication. (AR 263).
November 25, 2014 Plaintiff had increased pain in the right
foot and was recommended for surgery. (AR 261). The
impression was bilateral foot and ankle pain, tarsal