United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
D. NOCE UNITES STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
action is before the court for judicial review of the final
decision of the defendant Commissioner of Social Security
denying the application of plaintiff Brett Barton for
disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401, et seq., and supplemental
security income under Title XVI of that act, 42 U.S.C. §
1381, et seq. The parties have consented to the exercise of
plenary authority by the undersigned United States Magistrate
Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). For the reasons
set forth below, the final decision of the defendant
Commissioner is affirmed.
was born on June 17, 1972. (ECF No. 13 at 38) (Tr. 38). He
filed his Title II and Title XVI applications on November 30,
2012, alleging an onset date of August 16, 2011, and alleging
he was unable to work due to back problems, shaking from the
waist up, and depression. (Tr. 59). Plaintiff's
applications were denied on January 17, 2013 and thereafter
he requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(ALJ). Following the hearing on June 18, 2014, the ALJ denied
plaintiff's applications. (Tr. 14-16). The Appeals
Council denied plaintiff's request for review. Thus, the
decision of the ALJ stands as the final decision of the
MEDICAL AND OTHER HISTORY
has a substantial employment history: as a Nurse Aide from
1991 to 1997, as a serviceman for a gas utility from 1998 to
1999, as a tire service mechanic from 2000 to 2003, as a
janitorial supervisor from 2004 to 2006, and as an auto sales
mechanic from 2007 to August 16, 2011. (Tr. 167).
August 2010 plaintiff took part in a sleep study at the
Phelps County Regional Medical Center (Phelps County
Regional) to address his sleep apnea problem. (Tr. 244-46).
The doctor recommended plaintiff stop smoking, lose weight,
and wear his CPAP machine. (Tr. 244). After complaining of
headaches later that month, plaintiff received a CT scan
which was negative. (Tr. 243).
mid-September 2010, plaintiff first began sporadic treatment
for lower back pain. He received multi-level facet joint
injections by Glenn Kunkel, M.D., at Phelps County Regional
based on lumbosacral spondylosis without myelopathy.
October 2010, after complaining of neck pain plaintiff
underwent MRIs of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine.
(Tr. 231-34). The cervical MRI revealed disc extrusion at the
C5/C6 level. The thoracic MRI revealed mild degenerative disc
disease as well as mild foraminal narrowing at the T9/10 and
T10/11 levels, but no evidence of any central canal stenosis.
(Tr. 233-34). The lumbar MRI showed mild foraminal narrowing
and no significant recurrent disc herniation. (Tr. 231).
January 2011, plaintiff received a series of facet injections
due to radiating lower back pain. (Tr. 225-27). He also
participated in a lumbar puncture study in March; however, no
lab analysis was included in the record. (Tr. 222).
12, 2011, he had his tonsils removed. (Id.).
17, 2011, due to chest pain and shortness of breath plaintiff
had a chest X-ray, which revealed no acute cardiopulmonary
process. (Tr. 213). An associated EKG similarly showed no
acute changes. (Tr. 211).
August 16, 2011, his alleged disability onset date, following
an injury at his place of employment, plaintiff had an MRI of
the lumbar spine at the Rolla Radiology Group. The MRI report
showed some foraminal stenosis and a small posterior annular
tear at the L4/L5 level, but no evidence of recurrent or
residual disc herniation and no significant central spinal
stenosis. (Tr. 369-71).
September through mid-November, 2011, plaintiff then
underwent physical therapy at Sport Rehab, Inc. in Rolla, but
quit because he felt he was not making any significant
improvement. (Tr. 276-87, 45).
August of 2013, after complaining of more headaches and
left-sided weakness, an MRI on plaintiff's brain was
performed which was found to be “essentially
unremarkable.” (Tr. 288).
early October 2013, plaintiff underwent a cardiovascular
consultation with Dr. Timothy Martin, M.D., at Phelps County
Regional Medical Center. (Tr. 323-27). Dr. Martin's
physical examination showed, among other things, full range
of motion in the neck, regular heart rate, no clubbing,
cyanosis or edema in the extremities, and 5/5 motor strength.
(Tr. 326). However, due to the uncertain etiology of his
chest complaints a myocardial stress test was ordered. (Tr.
mid-October 2013, the stress test was administered and
revealed normal findings throughout. (Tr. 301-06). An
associated rest lexiscan study at the time revealed similarly
normal findings. (Tr. 299-300). An EKG at the same time
revealed mild left atrial enlargement and mild pulmonary
hypertension. (Tr. 301-02).
November and December of 2013, and in March of 2014, the
plaintiff had follow-up visits with Dr. Martin which showed
him making substantial ...