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Bauman v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

March 25, 2015

TERESA F. BAUMAN, Plaintiff,


RONNIE L. WHITE, District Judge.

This is an action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for judicial review of the Commissioner of Social Security's final decision denying Teresa F. Bauman's ("Bauman") application for disability insurance benefits under Title II and Title XVI of the Social Security Act.

I. Background

The Social Security Administration ("SSA") denied Bauman's application for benefits (Tr. 111-22) and she filed a timely request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). The SSA granted Bauman's request and a hearing was held on April 3, 2012. The ALJ issued a written decision on July 20, 2012, upholding the denial of benefits. (Tr. 17-28.) On September 18, 2012, Bauman filed a timely Request for Review of Hearing Decision with the (Tr. 7-13). In a letter dated January 15, 2014, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's Request for Review. (Tr. 1-6). [1] The decision of the ALJ thus stands as the final decision of the Commissioner. See Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 107 (2000). Bauman filed this appeal on December 23, 2013. (ECF No. 1): Bauman filed a Brief in Support of her Complaint. (ECF No. 17). The Commissioner filed a Brief in Support of the Answer. (ECF No. 23). Bauman has not filed a reply brief but the time for filing such a brief has run. (ECF No. 5).

II. Decision of the ALJ

The ALJ found that Bauman had severe impairments that included depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, Hepatitis C, and degenerative disc disease. (Tr. 19). However, the ALJ discerned that Bauman did not have an impairment or combination of impairments listed in or medically equal to one contained in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, subpart P, appendix 1. (Tr. 19-21).

The ALJ determined that Bauman had the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform a range of sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(a), 416.967(a), with only occasional climbing ramps and stairs, never climbing ropes, ladders, or scaffolds, and only occasionally balancing, kneeling, stooping, crouching, and crawling; she was also limited to semi-skilled work. (Tr. 21). The ALJ found that Bauman could perform her past relevant work as a telemarketer or other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 26-26). Consequently, the ALJ found that Bauman was not disabled. (Tr. 28).

III. Administrative Record

The following is a summary of relevant evidence before the ALJ.

A. Hearing Testimony

1. Bauman's Testimony

Bauman testified on April 3, 2012 as follows:

Bauman was 42 years old at the time of the hearing. (Tr. 39). She was not receiving any workers' compensation benefits or unemployment benefits. (Tr. 40). She has a driver's license and is able to drive on occasion. (Tr. 40). She has never been told that she should not be driving. (Tr. 40). She graduated from high school and had one semester of college at Jefferson County Community College. (Tr. 40). She did a nine-month program at St. Louis College of Health Careers. (Tr. 41). She also got her real estate license in 2005. (Tr. 41). She let her real estate license expire because it was too expensive. (Tr. 41). She last worked as a leasing agent for Covington Place Apartments in July/August 2008. (Tr. 41). She worked there for two months and lifted nothing over 20 pounds in that position. (Tr. 42). She left that employment because it was too demanding, given her neck fusion in 2005. (Tr. 42-43). She worked for Xentel as a telemarketer. (Tr. 43). She left that employment because she got headaches from looking at the screen. (Tr. 43). She was also an independent contractor for Apartment Search, where she would lease and show apartments. (Tr. 43-44). She worked part-time as a real estate agent beginning in 2006 or 2007. (Tr. 44). She sold about four or five houses. (Tr. 44). She worked at Penny's as a customer service representative and cashier. (Tr. 44). She left the job at Penny's for the job at Apartment Search. (Tr. 44). At Penny's she lifted at most 40-50 pounds. (Tr. 45). She was also a cashier at Home Depot for a little over a year. (Tr. 45). The most she lifted at Home Depot is about 60 pounds. (Tr. 45). She can't work now because of her leg, back and hands; she drops stuff all the time. (Tr. 45).

Bauman was in a car accident in 2005. (Tr. 46). On October 9, 2008, she was in another car accident where she broke her acetabulum. (Tr. 46). She has trouble standing and walking. (Tr. 46). She can stand for 15 minutes. (Tr. 46). She can walk maybe a quarter of a city block. (Tr. 46). She has trouble sitting for longer than 20 minutes without it starting to burn. (Tr. 47). She has used a cane, based upon Dr. Jackman's recommendation, since about six months after she got out of the hospital for her 2008 car accident. (Tr. 47). She has a lot of muscle atrophy and her knee is really weak and can give out on her at any time. (Tr. 47). She can climb a flight of stairs one at a time. (Tr. 47). She has some trouble reaching, she can't look up because of the fusions in her neck. (Tr. 48).

She sees Dr. Wilcox and Dr. Jackman. (Tr. 48). She sees Dr. Padda[2]for interventional pain management. (Tr. 48). Bauman provided the ALJ with a list of her current medications. (Tr. 48-49). The side effects to those medications are that she gets dizzy, drowsy, and sleepy. (Tr. 49).

On a typical day, Bauman gets up in the morning, takes her medicine, gets something to eat, and she tries to help around the house. (Tr. 49). She lives in the house alone with her mother. (Tr. 49). She has a dog; she is able to let him out to go to the bathroom. (Tr. 49). She has no problem getting him food and water. (Tr. 50). She can wipe off the counter, make the bed, clean the toilet, clean the bathrooms. (Tr. 50). She goes to the grocery store with a motorized scooter. (Tr. 50, 58). She has trouble with her memory. She forgets things. (Tr. 50). She has trouble comprehending what she reads. (Tr. 51). She has low self-esteem. She has been diagnosed with ...

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