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 Therese Cooper's (“Cooper”)
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 Social Security
Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1381-85.
November 17, 2011, Cooper protectively filed an application
for disability insurance and supplemental security income
benefits, alleging disability beginning November 1, 2010.
(Tr. 119-31) The Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) denied her claims on January 6, 2012.
(Tr. 60-66) She filed a timely request for a hearing before
an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) (Tr. 67-69).
Following a hearing on April 24, 2014 (Tr. 28-58), the ALJ
issued a written decision on May 12, 2014, upholding the
denial of benefits. (Tr. 10-27) Cooper requested review of
the ALJ's decision by the Appeals Council. (Tr. 7-9) On
September 18, 2015, the Appeals Council denied her request
for review. (Tr. 1-6) Thus, the decision of the ALJ stands as
the final decision of the Commissioner. See Sims v.
Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 107 (2000).
filed this appeal on November 25, 2015. (Doc. No. 1) The
Commissioner filed an Answer. (Doc. No. 10) Cooper filed a
brief in support of her Complaint on July 26, 2016 (Doc. No.
22) and the Commissioner filed a brief in support of the
answer on October 26, 2016 (Doc. No. 29). Cooper did not file
Decision of the ALJ
determined that Cooper met the insured status requirements of
the Social Security Act through September 30, 2012, and had
not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 1,
2010, the alleged onset date of disability (Tr. 15). The ALJ
found Cooper had the severe impairments of bilateral knee
degenerative joint disease (“DJD”), asthma, and
obesity, 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.
considering the entire record, the ALJ determined Cooper had
the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
perform sedentary work, defined as: “can occasionally
lift up to ten pounds; can frequently lift or carry less than
ten pounds; can sit six hours in an eight-hour workday; can
stand or walk two hours in an eight-hour workday; can perform
work that does not require climbing on ladders, ropes, or
scaffolds; no more than occasional climbing on ramps or
stairs; no more than occasional balancing, stooping,
kneeling, crouching or crawling; should avoid concentrated
exposure to pulmonary irritants, such as gas, fumes, odors,
dust, and workspaces with poor ventilation; should avoid
concentrated exposure to temperature extremes, wetness, and
humidity; should avoid exposure to work hazards, such as
unprotected heights and being around dangerous, moving
machinery; and requires a sit/stand option allowing a change
in position every thirty to sixty minutes for a few minutes
at a time while remaining at the work station and by
alternating positions would not be off task or interfere with
production for more than ten percent of the work day”
found Cooper unable to perform any past relevant work, but
that there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the
national economy that she can perform (Tr. 21-22). Thus, the
ALJ concluded that Cooper is not disabled (Tr. 23).
following is a summary of the relevant evidence before the
held a hearing in this matter on April 24, 2014 (Tr. 28-58).
The ALJ heard testimony from Cooper, who was represented at
the hearing by counsel, and John F. Magellan, a vocational
was 48 years old at the time of the hearing. She completed
the 12th grade. (Tr. 49) Cooper last worked
full-time in November 2010 as a pizza delivery driver for
Imo's (Tr. 45, 48). She testified she was having problems
with her knees while working at Imo's but was “let
go” based on a dispute that “didn't
really” have anything to do with her knees (Tr. 44).
According to Cooper, she filed for disability because she
lost her job with Imo's and was having problems with her
knees and ...