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Martinez v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 1, 2016

RUBY V. MARTINEZ, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.


RAYMOND P. MOORE United States District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Ruby V. Martinez’s (“Plaintiff”) request for judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff challenges the final decision of Defendant Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, by which she denied Plaintiff’s applications for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act (“Act”). An Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) ruled Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Act and therefore not entitled to DIB.

Defendant provided the Court with the administrative record. (ECF Nos. 10; 10-1; 10-2; 10-3; 10-4; 10-5; 10-6; 10-7; 10-8; 10-9; 10-10; 10-11; 10-12; 10-13; 10-14; 10-15; 10-16; 10-17; 10-18; 10-19.) The parties have fully briefed the matter and it is ripe for adjudication. (ECF Nos. 17; 21; 24.)

For the reasons set forth below, the Court vacates Defendant’s denial of Plaintiff’s DIB application and remands for further proceedings consistent with this Order.


Plaintiff applied for DIB in May 2011, alleging she was disabled as of March 1, 2005, due to the following conditions that limit her ability to work: shoulder injury, carpal tunnel, diabetes, and breast cancer recovery. (Admin. R. (“Tr.”) 120-23, 143.) After Plaintiff’s application was initially denied, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ. (Tr. 75-84, 90.) The ALJ denied Plaintiff’s application. (Tr. 15-30.) Plaintiff requested review of the ALJ’s decision and, in June 2014, the Appeals Council denied such review. (Tr. 1-5, 13-14.) Plaintiff timely requested judicial review before the Court.

A. Background and Relevant Medical Evidence

Plaintiff was born in 1963. (Tr. 122.) Plaintiff completed twelfth grade. (Tr. 144.) Plaintiff’s past relevant work, as defined in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, includes: cashier, housekeeper, retail manager, and bank teller. (Tr. 68.)

Plaintiff claims she became disabled on March 1, 2005, due to a combination of physical and mental health impairments. (Tr. 120-23, 143, 1348-52, 1353-57.)

1. Physical Impairments

In March 2005, Plaintiff injured her right shoulder. (Tr. 287, 1276.) In August 2005, Rick Cunningham, M.D., treated Plaintiff’s shoulder injury. (Tr. 287.) In November 2005, Plaintiff underwent shoulder surgery for shoulder impingement syndrome and for a rotator cuff tear. (Tr. 291-92, 294, 381-83.) Post-operative diagnosis was right shoulder chronic impingement syndrome and partial thickness rotator cuff tear. (Tr. 382.) In March 2006, Plaintiff had a second shoulder injury. (Tr. 300, 378-80.) In August 2006, Dr. Cunningham opined that Plaintiff had reached maximum medical improvement. (Tr. 304.) Also in August 2006, Randall Burris, M.D., opined that Plaintiff had the following permanent restrictions: lift 20 pounds, lift overhead 10 pounds, push 17 pounds, and pull no pounds. (See Tr. 273, 1095.)

In September 2006, Plaintiff was diagnosed with breast cancer. (See Tr. 1214.)

In February 2007, Plaintiff was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. (Tr. 280.)

In February 2007, Plaintiff established care with David Reinhard, M.D. (Tr. 279-81.) Plaintiff saw Dr. Reinhard approximately every month throughout 2007. (Tr. 265-76.) In September 2007, Dr. Reinhard opined that Plaintiff had reached maximum medical improvement with respect to her shoulder complaints and that “[s]he does not require any permanent work restrictions.” (Tr. 267.) In November 2007, Dr. Reinhard noted that David Yamamoto, M.D., opined that Plaintiff was limited to lifting 20 pounds, pushing and pulling 10 pounds, and that she should avoid above the shoulder work “for more than 5 minutes per hour.” (Tr. 265.)

In May 2008, Dr. Cunningham operated on Plaintiff’s shoulder again. (Tr. 306, 308.) In August 2008, Plaintiff was referred to a consultation to see whether her shoulder pain was caused by her neck. (Tr. 313-14.) Scott Raub, D.O., examined Plaintiff and reviewed medical records. (Tr. 315-20.) Dr. Raub concluded that there was likely nothing wrong with her cervical spine. (Tr. 315-20.)

In December 2008, Paul Abbott, M.D., examined Plaintiff. (Tr. 325-26.) In January 2009, Plaintiff underwent another shoulder surgery. (Tr. 327, 329.) In April 2009, Dr. Abbott stated that Plaintiff was at maximum medical improvement (Tr. 333) and opined that Plaintiff should not lift, carry, push, and pull more than five pounds and rarely reach overhead or away from her body without weight (Tr. 456.)

In June 2009, Dr. Reinhard opined that Plaintiff could lift, push, and pull five pounds and occasionally lift overhead. (Tr. 257-58.) Dr. Yamamoto, in June 2009, reviewed Plaintiff’s records and examined her. (Tr. 1390-94.) Dr. Yamamoto agreed with Dr. Reinhard’s limitations. (Tr. 1393-94.)

In October 2009, Terrell Joseph, M.D., treated Plaintiff. (Tr. 335-38.) Dr. Joseph diagnosed Plaintiff with carpel tunnel syndrome. (Tr. 341.) In January 2010, Plaintiff underwent carpal tunnel surgery. (Tr. 348, 369-70.) Plaintiff, with respect to her carpal tunnel syndrome, reached maximum medical improvement in December 2010. (Tr. 361.) Dr. Joseph opined ...

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