United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern 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 Plaintiff's application for disability insurance
benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 401, et seq.
Rabija Alic (“Alic”) filed an application for
disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401 et seq., in
2010. (Tr. 42-43) The Social Security Administration denied
Alic's claim. (Tr. 44-50) Alic filed a timely request for
a hearing before an administrative law judge
(“ALJ”), and following a hearing, the ALJ issued
a written decision on January 11, 2012 upholding the denial
of benefits. (Tr. 6-21) That opinion was appealed to this
Court, and by Order of Remand issued August 8, 2014, the
ALJ's decision was reversed. (Tr. 870-904;
4:13-cv-638-TCM). United States Magistrate Judge Mummert
found that the ALJ failed to accept or reject a specific
finding by one of Alic's physicians, and failed to
identify specific Dictionary of Occupational Title
(“DOT”) codes for the jobs identified as
Alic's past relevant work. Judge Mummert also found that
the ALJ did not address whether Alic can perform her past
relevant work at the necessary language level in light of her
Bosnian eighth grade education and inability to read English.
a second hearing, the ALJ issued a new unfavorable decision
on April 27, 2015. (Tr. 819-38) The ALJ decision became final
on June 27, 2015 and is now before this Court for judicial
Decision of the ALJ
determined that Alic had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since March 27, 2010, which is the alleged onset
date of disability. (Tr. 824) The ALJ found that Alic had the
following severe impairments: lumbar degenerative disc
disease and coronary disease 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. (Tr. 824-25) After considering
the entire record, the ALJ determined that Alic has the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform
the full range of light work, as defined in 20 C.F.R. §
404.1567(b). (Tr. 826)
found that Alic is able to perform her past relevant work as
a packer, housekeeper, and sewing machine
operator. (Tr. 831) Thus, the ALJ found Alic not
disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. (Tr.
833) The ALJ also made an alternative finding that Alic would
be able to work as a mail clerk, electrical assembler, or
office helper. (Tr. 832)
following is a summary of the relevant evidence before the
held a hearing in this matter on February 4, 2015. Alic
testified and was represented by counsel. (Tr. 841-49) She
testified with the aid of an interpreter. (Tr. 841) A
vocational expert did not testify at the hearing, but rather
submitted vocational interrogatories to the ALJ. (Tr. 986-88)
was 54 years old at the time of the hearing. (Tr. 841) She
was born in Srebrenica, Bosnia, and came to the United States
in 2001. (Tr. 842) At the time of the hearing, Alic was
living with her son and daughter-in-law. Id. She has
undergone eight years of schooling in Bosnia. Id.
She is unable to read or write English. (Tr. 843) She does
not have a driver's license. Id.
testified that she is able to lift a gallon of milk with her
right hand but not her left hand because she has a pacemaker.
(Tr. 844) She is able to stand for “maybe 15
minutes” before she has to sit down. Id. She
can sit “around 10 minutes” before she has to get
up and change positions. Id. She is able to walk for
“maybe 15 minutes” before she has to take a
stated that she has difficulty taking a shower and getting
dressed because of her left arm. (Tr. 845) Her
daughter-in-law has to be there when Alic takes a shower, and
Alic is not allowed to close the door to the bathroom.
Id. She does not do any cooking around the house,
and she tries to clean the house but is unable to finish, so
she must call her daughter-in-law to finish it. Id.
Alic testified about her back problems. Alic testified that
her spine is damaged, and that she was told of a problem with
a bone in her back. (Tr. 846) She experiences pain going from
her right hip down her leg, and the pain has also started in
her left leg. Id. However, she states the pain is
worse on her right side. Id.
also stated that she has received treatment for depression.
(Tr. 846) She witnessed the Bosnian War and recounted her
experiences during the war, including food and water
shortages. Id. Alic said that she once saw, after
leaving home to fetch water with another woman, three bodies
that had been decapitated. (Tr. 846-67) Alic stated that she
continues to have thoughts about her experiences during the
war and now has trouble sleeping because of them. (Tr. 847)
She also takes sleeping pills and will have nightmares about
the war. Id.
also suffers from heart problems. She has a pacemaker and
high blood pressure. (Tr. 848) She tires easily. (Tr. 849)
Interrogatory of Vocational Expert
expert Jenifer Teixeira was given a list of questions by the
ALJ in an interrogatory on February 11, 2015, to which Ms.
Teixeira responded on February 18, 2015. (979-88)
hypothetical, the ALJ asked Ms. Teixeira to assume an
individual of Alic's age, education, work experience, and
ability to communicate in English as defined in 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1564 and 20 C.F.R. § 416.964, who has the RFC
to perform the full range of light work as defined in 20
C.F.R. § 404.1567(b) and 20 C.F.R. § 416.967(b).
Id. The ALJ then asked Ms. Teixeira whether this
individual could perform any of Alic's past jobs as
actually performed or as normally performed in the national
economy. Id. Ms. Teixeira opined that the
hypothetical individual would be able to perform past work as
a housekeeper, packer, and sewing machine operator. (Tr. 987)
Ms. Teixeira further opined that the individual would not be
able to perform as a home health aide because that position
is at the medium exertion level. Id.
the ALJ asked whether the individual could perform any
unskilled occupations with jobs that exist in the national
economy. (Tr. 981) Ms. Teixeira opined that the individual
could work as a mail clerk, DOT number 209.687-026, specific
vocational preparation (“SVP”) of 2, light work;
2, 850 such jobs are estimated to exist in Missouri and 119,
960 nationally. (Tr. 987) Second, such a person could work as
an electrical assembler, DOT number 729.687-010, SVP of 2,
light work; 2, 740 such jobs are estimated to exist in
Missouri and 180, 440 nationally. Id. Third, such a