United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. THOMAS MARTEN, Chief Judge.
Plaintiff Ralph Douglas Weaver seeks review of a final decision by defendant, the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner"), denying his application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under Title II of the Social Security Act ("the Act"). Plaintiff alleges that the Commissioner erred in determining that he can perform light work. Upon review, the court finds that the Commissioner's decision was supported by substantial evidence contained in the record and is therefore affirmed.
Plaintiff's relevant health issues date back to at least March 2011, when he visited Dr. James Warner complaining of neck pain. Dr. Warner noted recent cervical spine x-rays indicating mild abnormalities and prescribed pain medication. In a follow-up appointment with Dr. Kimberly Moore, plaintiff was diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the neck, aggravated by work. Cervical spine examination revealed full range of motion with tenderness. On May 19, 2011, Dr. Warner examined plaintiff for right knee pain. Dr. Warner noted normal muscle strength, full range of motion, and a normal gait. X-rays revealed right knee joint effusion and Dr. Warner adjusted plaintiff's medication for his neck and knee pain. In June 2011, Dr. Warner again assessed plaintiff as having normal strength and reflexes, but with limited cervical spine range of motion.
On October 24, 2011, plaintiff was treated by Dirk Dunfee, a nonphysician provider associated with Dr. Sharon Lee. Dunfee noted limited cervical spine range of motion, right knee tenderness, limited right knee range of motion, an antalgic gait, and an absence of right knee effusion. Dunfee examined plaintiff again on November 8, 2011, noting normal gait, limited right knee range of motion, absence of right knee swelling, and limited cervical spine ranges of motion. Dunfee wrote plaintiff pain medication prescriptions on both occasions.
On November 18, 2011, Dr. Joseph B. Noland, an orthopedist, examined plaintiff for neck, right upper extremity, and knee pain. Dr. Noland noted symmetrical upper body extremity strength, stable right knee stress testing, and an antalgic gait. Cervical spine x-rays revealed moderate to severe degenerative changes. Dr. Noland later ordered a cervical spine MRI, which proved unremarkable.
On November 29, 2011, Scott Koeneman, Psy. D., examined plaintiff. Koneman noted normal gait and that plaintiff reported shopping and running errands.
Dr. Kyle Timmerman, a state agency physician, performed a residual functional capacity ("RFC") assessment of plaintiff on November 30, 2011. Dr. Timmerman determined that plaintiff could lift or carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; stand and/or walk and sit about six hours in an eight-hour day; push/pull within his lifting capacity; climb ramps or stairs, balance, and stoop frequently; kneel, crouch, and crawl occasionally; and perform work allowing avoidance of concentrated exposure to cold, heat, vibration, and hazards such as machinery and heights, more than limited overhead reaching, or any ladder/rope/scaffold climbing; and that he had no visual, communicative, or other manipulative or environmental limitations.
Dr. Noland again examined plaintiff on December 1, 2011. Dr. Noland noted bilateral knee osteoarthritis, degenerative changes in the tricompartment of both knees, and an unremarkable cervical spine MRI. Dr. Noland indicated that plaintiff would undergo a course of Hyalgan knee injections. Dunfee treated plaintiff on December 6, 2011, and January 9, 2012, prescribing pain medication on both occasions.
Dr. Noland administered a series of five Hyalgan injections into plaintiff's knees from December 8, 2011, to January 5, 2011.
Dr. Talal Khan treated plaintiff from February 2012, to September 2012. During that period, Dr. Khan treated plaintiff with four cervical spine injections. Right knee x-rays from February 20, 2012, revealed "moderate or moderate to marked" osteoarthritis in the medial joint space of plaintiff's right knee, with moderate joint effusion.
On April 25, 2012, Dr. Noland examined plaintiff for follow-up of a right ankle fracture. Dr. Noland noted that plaintiff was out of his cam walker and was asymptomatic. On May 10, 2012, Dr. Noland treated plaintiff for his right knee pain. The knee was stable to stress testing, with x-rays showing fairly advanced medial joint space narrowing of both knees with tricompartmental degenerative changes. Plaintiff opted to persist with careful observation and pain medication treatment, which Dr. Noland noted was reasonable.
Dr. Khan performed a final cervical spine injection on September 17, 2012.
Dr. Stephen W. Munns, another orthopedist, examined plaintiff on December 7, 2012, for bilateral knee pain. X-rays revealed bilateral knee osteoarthritis. Physical examination revealed left knee range of motion from 0 to 110 degrees, and right knee range of motion from 0 to 105 degrees with pain in deep flexion. Dr. Munns noted that plaintiff's knees were both stable to varus/valgus stress, with 5/5 strength in the left lower extremities and 4/5 strength in the right lower extremities. Dr. Munns recorded that "[i]t was discussed with the patient that he may seek disability paperwork from his primary care doctor or Dr. Noland but regarding his knee pain he has had successful relief of his symptoms with Hyalgan injection in the past and has not tried corticosteroid injections." (Dkt. 9-1, at 485). Dr. Munns wrote Dr. Noland ...