United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. ROSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
an action under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) for judicial
review of the Commissioner of Social Security's final
decision denying Graling Robinson's
(“Robinson”) application for disability insurance
benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 401, et seq. and supplemental security
income (SSI) under Title XVI of the Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1381, et seq.
August 27, 2012, Robinson protectively filed applications for
disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401, et seq.
and for SSI benefits under Title XVI of the Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1381, et seq. (Tr. 137-149) In both
applications, Robinson alleged disability beginning March 9,
2008. The Social Security Administration (“SSA”)
denied Robinson's claims on October 22, 2012. (Tr. 80-81,
84-88) He filed a timely request for a hearing before an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) on November 30,
2012. (Tr. 89-90) Following a video hearing held on December
16, 2013, the ALJ issued a written decision on January 28,
2014, upholding the denial of benefits. (Tr. 13-21) Robinson
requested review of the ALJ's decision by the Appeals
Council (Tr. 5-9) On March 23, 2015, the Appeals Council
denied his request for review. (Tr. 1-4) Thus, the decision
of the Appeals Council stands as the final decision of the
Commissioner. See Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-7
filed this appeal on May 22, 2015. (Doc. No. 1) The
Commissioner filed an answer on August 3, 2015. (Doc. No. 9)
Robinson filed a Brief in Support of his Complaint. (Doc. No.
11) The Commissioner filed a Brief in Support of the Answer.
(Doc. No. 12)
Decision of the ALJ
determined that Robinson meets the insured status
requirements of the Social Security Act through September 30,
2017, and had engaged in substantial gainful activity between
March 9, 2008, the alleged onset date, and October 14, 2011.
(Tr. 15) The ALJ's remaining findings addressed the
period from October 15, 2011 through the decision date, when
Robinson did not engage in substantial gainful activity. (Tr.
found that Robinson has the severe impairments of status post
left leg amputation, mild chondromalacia and mild
degenerative changes of the right knee, but that no
impairment or combination of impairments met or medically
equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20
C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Id.)
considering the entire record, the ALJ determined that
Robinson has the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform sedentary work in that he can
lift and carry 10 pounds occasionally and frequently, stand
and walk for two hours in an eight-hour day, and sit for six
hours in an eight-hour day. (Id.) However, the ALJ
found that Robinson must be able to alternate positions every
45 minutes for brief position changes while continuing to
work. He retains the ability to occasionally climb ramps and
stairs, but may never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds.
(Id.) The ALJ found Robinson unable to perform any
past relevant work, but that jobs exist in significant
numbers in the national economy that he can perform, such as
document preparer, cutter/paster, and pharmacy processor.
(Tr. 20-21) Thus, the ALJ found that a finding of “not
disabled” was appropriate. (Tr. 21)
following is a summary of the relevant evidence before the
held a video hearing in this matter on December 16, 2013, and
heard testimony from Robinson and Alissa Smith, a vocational
was twenty-seven at the time of the hearing and living with
his wife. (Tr. 32-33) He is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs
approximately 190 pounds. (Tr. 52) He completed high school.
(Tr. 32-33) In March of 2008 Robinson was injured in a
motorcycle accident. His left leg was amputated above the
knee and he was fitted with a left leg prosthesis. His right
ankle was also injured and he wears an ankle brace every day
for support. (Tr. 38-39) It was Robinson's testimony that
the pain from his prosthesis prevents him from working a
full-time job. (Tr. 44, 53)
has no difficulties driving and needs no special
accommodation for his car. (Tr. 33) He is able to do
housework including cooking and laundry, and usually sits on
a stool by the sink to do the dishes. (Tr. 34, 49) In terms
of his personal care, Robinson has to sit in a shower chair
because he can't wear his prosthesis in the shower.
(Id.) He sleeps between six and eight hours a night
with occasional difficulty when the nerves in the residual
limb start acting up. (Tr. 35-36)
typical day Robinson watches television, reads, helps pick up
a little around the house. (Tr. 36, 50-51)) He is able shop
for groceries once or twice a month. (Tr. 49) He goes to
church occasionally (Tr. 49-50) Robinson goes fishing three
or four times a year and deer hunting 5 or 6 times during the
season. (Tr. 50) He uses a computer at home. (Id.)
last worked in September 2013 stocking groceries for a period
of two and a half weeks for 18 hours a week. He was able to
wear his prosthesis most of the time. He had three absences
during that time because his leg was swollen and he
couldn't wear his prosthesis, and one day he went home
early because his right knee was swelling. He has trouble
lifting because he is not able to squat down to pick up
things. (Tr. 36-37) It was Robinson's testimony that his
knees swell about twice a week. (Tr. 38) He was laid off from
his job in the machining department of Briggs and Stratton in
October 2011 because of attendance issues with his left leg
and his prosthesis. (Tr. 46) He averaged five absences a
month - all related to his leg issues. (Tr. 53-54)
is able to climb stairs with his prosthesis and with his
crutches. (Tr. 34) He cannot walk foot over foot to climb
stairs; he climbs them one at a time using his right leg
because he lacks the muscle strength to push up with his left
leg. (Id.) His body weight is supported on his right
leg. (Id.) Robinson testified that he can stand
comfortably with his prosthesis for 25-30 minutes. (Tr.
39-40) If he uses his crutches, he can stand for about 45
minutes. (Tr. 40) He starts to develop pain in his right
ankle and knee and into his back and shoulders.
(Id.) He also experiences pain in his left leg where
the socket for the prosthesis sets. (Id.) In terms
of sitting, he experiences pain in his lower back, shoulder,
and right hip, especially if he is wearing his prosthesis
because the socket goes all the way up his hip. (Tr. 41) He
can walk a few hundred feet without stopping when wearing his
prosthesis; with his crutches he can walk 300 to 400 feet
before stopping to rest. (Tr. 49) At that point, he has pain
in his right knee and ankle as well as his shoulders from the
crutches themselves. (Id.) Robinson complained that
he couldn't afford medical treatment for this pain. (Tr.
41-42, 45) He has some difficulty with balance when he
reaches out in front of himself or overhead. (Tr. 42) If he
had to lift something for two and a half hours a day, five
days a week, he could lift between 25 and 30 pounds if it was
at table height so he wouldn't have to stoop or bend down
to get it. (Id.) He takes a generic form of
Flexeril, cyclobenzaprine and tramadol for pain. (Tr. 43)
Robinson smokes a pack of cigarettes a day. (Tr. 52, 266,