United States District Court, D. Utah
KELLI B. SLADE, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
J. Furse United States Magistrate Judge
Kelli B. Slade (“Ms. Slade”) appeals the
Commissioner of Social Security's decision denying her
claim for Disability Insurance Benefits under Title II of the
Social Security Act (the Act), 42 U.S.C. §§
401-433, as well as Supplemental Security Income, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1381-1383f. (ECF No. 3.) Having considered the
parties' briefs, the administrative record, the arguments
of counsel, and the relevant law, the Court REMANDS the
Commissioner's decision for further consideration.
Slade filed an application for Disability and Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”), as well as,
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) on April 24,
2012, alleging disability beginning March 25, 2011. (A.R.
155-160, 161-67.) The Social Security Administration denied
Ms. Slade's claims initially on July 26, 2012, and again
upon reconsideration on November 29, 2012. (A.R. 59, 60, 81,
82.) Thereafter, Ms. Slade timely requested a hearing before
an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) on April 17,
2013. (A.R. 122-23.)
held a hearing on March 11, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (A.R.
41-58.) The ALJ found Ms. Slade not disabled on May 28, 2014.
(A.R. 22-40.) The Appeals Council denied Ms. Slade's
request for review on November 16, 2015. (A.R. 1-6.) This
Appeals Council denial made the ALJ's decision the final
decision of the Commissioner.
Slade brought this action to appeal the Commissioner's
decision pursuant to 24 U.S.C. § 405(g), which provides
for judicial review of the defendant's final decision.
automobile accident at age twelve injured Ms. Slade,
resulting in chronic back pain. (A.R. 282, 339, 458.) This
pain worsened in 2005 making work more difficult. (A.R. 458.)
She began receiving pain medication and injections for the
pain. (A.R. 458.) In March 2011, Ms. Slade received a
cervical spine steroid injection that caused a cervical spine
hematoma. (A.R. 278, 282.) An MRI of her spine showed that
the hematoma caused cervical spinal cord compression. (A.R.
285, 307.) Eventually Ms. Slade underwent a C6-C7 laminectomy
and removal of the hematoma to alleviate the pain. (A.R.
287.) An MRI after the surgery showed post-surgical changes
at ¶ 6-T1 and small amounts of fluid within the
postsurgical space. (A.R. 365.) Ms. Slade continued to
complain of neck pain, upper back pain, and pain in her upper
extremities. (A.R. 387.) Physical examinations showed
decreased range of motion in the cervical spine and decreased
reflexes in both the left and right triceps and biceps. (A.R.
390.) In October 2012, the record reflects that Ms. Slade had
difficulty using a knife and fork due to pain in her upper
extremities. (A.R. 458.) She had decreased range of motion in
her neck. (A.R. 462.) She had reduced motor strength,
decreased sensation, and decrease reflexes in her upper
extremities. (A.R. 462, 463.) A Romberg test showed some
instability. (A.R. 462.)
Slade also suffered from headaches since the hematoma. She
was diagnosed with chemical meningitis, a severe headache
caused by neurosurgical procedures. (A.R. 314-320.) Ms. Slade
consistently complained of headaches throughout the record.
(A.R. 399, 481, 515.)
February 2014, Dr. Rox Burkett, reviewed Ms. Slade's
entire file and submitted a report and a residual functional
capacity assessment. (A.R. 532-38.) Dr. Burkett noted that
Ms. Slade had severe degenerative disc disease in her
cervical spine confirmed by multiple doctors including
specialists. (A.R. 536-37.) Dr. Burkett noted that even the
DDS examiner stated Ms. Slade had credible neck pain and
limited strength and range of motion but did not reflect this
finding in his residual functional capacity. (A.R. 537.)
Burkett stated that Ms. Slade had the diagnoses of advanced
degenerative disease of the C-spine with chronic pain and
weakness, as well as, migraine headaches. (A.R. 532.) He
stated she has significant sustainable weakness in her upper
extremities. (A.R. 532.)
hearing, Ms. Slade testified she does not drive because she
has difficulty turning her head and keeping her foot on the
accelerator. (A.R. 44.) Ms. Slade stated that her pain runs
along her entire spine. (A.R. 46.) The pain radiates into her
shoulders, and her fingertips are tingly and painful. (A.R.
46.) She has difficulty gripping things. (A.R. 46.) She has
headaches. (A.R. 46.) Ms. Slade's mother helps with most
of the daily activities including helping her dress and
shower. (A.R. 47.) Ms. Slade testified that at least once a
week, the headaches are bad enough that she cannot perform
any activities. (A.R. 50.)