United States District Court, D. Delaware
Nurse, Bear, Delaware; Pro Se Plaintiff.
P. Kressman, Regional Counsel, Region III, and Annie
Kernicky, Assistant Deputy Regional Counsel, Office of the
Regional Chief, Social Security Administration, Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania; David C. Weiss, United States Attorney for the
District of Delaware, Wilmington, Delaware; Heather
Benderson, Special Assistant United States Attorney, Office
of the General Counsel, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Attorneys
ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Angela Nurse, who appears pro se, appeals the
decision of Defendant Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner
of Social Security, denying her application for disability
insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental
security income ("SSI") under Title II and Title
XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§
401-433, 1381-1383f. Jurisdiction exists pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 405(g). Pending before the Court are cross
motions for summary judgment filed by Nurse and the
Commissioner. (D.I. 12, 13). Briefing is complete.
protectively filed for disability insurance benefits on
December 12, 2013, alleging disability as of June 1, 2010 due
to Graves' disease, depression, and leg problems. (D.I.
9-6 at 1-14). She amended her alleged disability onset date
to February 25, 2013. (D.I. 9-3 at 4). After her application
was denied on April 14, 2014, Nurse requested a hearing
before an administrative law judge. (D.I. 9-4 at 2-24; D.I.
9-5 at 13). The administrative hearing was held on January 7,
2016, and Nurse appeared, represented by counsel. (D.I. 9-3
at 2-34). Testimony was provided by Nurse and vocational
expert Antonia Chula. The ALJ issued an amended decision on
March 28, 2016, finding that Nurse was not disabled because
she was able to return to her past relevant work. (D.I. 9-2
at 24-33). Nurse sought review by the Appeals Council,
submitted additional evidence, and her request was denied on
June 22, 2017, making the ALJ's decision the final
decision of the Commissioner. (D.I. 9-2 at 2-5; D.I. 9-7 at
67). Nurse filed suit on August 9, 2017 seeking review of the
final decision. (D.I. 1).
who was 57 years old on the date of the ALJ's decision,
has a ninth grade education and can read and write. (D.I. 9-3
at 23). She lives with family members. (Id. at 8).
She has a driver's license but does not have a car.
(Id.) She does not prepare dinner but does some
household chores such as vacuuming. (Id. at 12). She
likes to use her computer. (Id. at 13-14).
to 2013, Nurse worked in a warehouse as a receiving clerk
where she stood on her feet ten to twelve hours a day.
(Id. 14-15). She has also done some assembly work.
(Id. at 15). Nurse testified she began working part
time on June 17, 2015 stocking shelves in the toy department
at Walmart, working between 28 to 32 hours per week, up to
eight hours per shift. (Id. at 10). She is primarily on
her feet and is given a fifteen minute break every two hours
in addition to a lunch break. (Id. at 11).
believes she is disabled because she is not the same person
she was before she contracted Graves' disease.
(Id. at 16). She was diagnosed with the condition in
2009. (Id.). Nurse testified that because of the
Graves' disease she tires easily and is easily fatigued.
(Id.). Nurse testified that sometimes she is just
tired and "just don't really want to go to
work." (Id. at 24). She estimated that four to
five times a month she is so tired that she really cannot
leave the house. (Id.). She was on medication for
the Graves' disease but was taken off because her blood
levels were dropping too low. (Id. at 18). At the
time of the hearing she was "kind of maintaining."
has headaches every two to three weeks that last four to five
days. (Id. at 16-17). With headaches she takes pain
medication and lies down. (Id. at 17). If a headache
happens at work she tries to bear it until she gets off work.
(Id.) The medication she takes for headaches is the
same medication she takes for her arthritis. (Id.).
function report Nurse complained of body pain. (D.I. 9-7 at
33). She described back pain that goes into her shoulders, as
well as leg pain. (Id. at 41). Nurse testified she
has arthritis in her legs and sometimes they "act
up." (D.I. 9-3 at 17). Sometimes her legs get very
stiff, which makes it difficult for her to walk up and down
stairs. (Id. at 18). She takes a prescription form
of Tylenol for arthritis. (Id.). The medication
causes side effects including sweating. (Id. at 19).
It appears the medication causes light sensitivity, because
Nurse testified sunlight affects her ability to see.
(Id.). She also has shortness of breath.
(Id. at 25).
testified she weighs 197 pounds and has been diagnosed with
diabetes. (Id. at 19). The diabetes is being
monitored and she is not taking medication for the condition.
(Id. at 20). Nurse has also been diagnosed with
chronic kidney disease. (Id.). When asked if she was
having problems with it, Nurse replied that it was all right
now, but it was supposed to be a lot better than it was.
sees both a psychologist and a psychiatrist. (Id.).
She takes medication for depression. (Id. at 21).
The medication makes her sweat. (Id.). Nurse
testified that she has problems with memory and
concentration. (Id. at 22). When asked if she had
problems at work, Nurse replied, "not so much."
(Id.). Nurse testified that she got along with her
coworkers and her supervisors. (Id. at 23).
Nurse' Medical and Mental Health History, Condition, and
Dr. David Cohen provided Nurse regular chiropractic treatment
from December 3, 2013 through February 10, 2014 for
complaints of headache and neck and back pain. (D.I. 9-8 at
15-24). On December 12, 2013, Dr. Cohen stated that Nurse was
unable to work, and at the next visit his notes indicate that
treatment had decreased the pain level and improved function.
(Id. at 16-17). On February 10, 2014, Nurse
complained of increased neck, right shoulder, mid back, and
low back pain, exacerbated by increased lifting, movement,
twisting, pain, spasm, and stiffness proportional to
activity, barometric changes, and mental stress.
(Id. at 21-22). On the same date, Dr. Cohen stated
that Nurse was "unable to perform certain activities of
daily living." (Id.).
March 10, 2014, Nurse was examined by Daniel Lebowitz, M.D.,
for a consultative physical examination. (D.I. 9-9 at 2-5).
Nurse reported that she lived with a friend and was able to
cook, clean, wash laundry, shop, shower, bathe, and dress
herself. (Id. at 3). She liked to watch television,
listen to the radio, read, socialize with friends, go
shopping, and use the computer. (Id.). Dr. Lebowitz
observed that Nurse's gait was tentative, with no limp or
use of assistive devices. (Id.). She was able to
walk on her heels and toes without difficulty, squat fully,
and get on and off the examination table and rise from a
chair without difficulty. (Id.). Nurse's joints
were stable and nontender with no evident deformity; her
strength was 5/5 in her upper and lower extremities; she had
no sensory deficits; her hand and finger dexterity was
intact; and her grip strength was 5/5 bilaterally.