United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
D. Noce UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
action is before the court for judicial review of the final
decision of the defendant Commissioner of Social Security
denying the applications of plaintiff David Vaughn Stogsdill
for disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental
security income (SSI) benefits under Titles II and XVI of the
Social Security Act (the Act), 42 U.S.C. §§ 401 et
seq.; 1381 et seq. The parties consented to the exercise of
plenary authority by the undersigned United States Magistrate
Judge under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).
reasons set forth below, the decision of the Administrative
Law Judge (ALJ) is affirmed.
David V. Stogsdill, born September 1, 1986, applied for DIB
and SSI benefits under Title II and XVI of the Act on April
23, 2013, and May 10, 2013, respectively. (Tr. 119, 121).
Plaintiff alleged his disability began on November 12, 2012,
at the age of 26. (Tr. 119, 121). According to his disability
report, plaintiff claimed he was disabled due to epilepsy.
(Tr. 158). Plaintiff's application was initially denied
on September 30, 2013, and he filed a Request for Hearing by
an ALJ on October 7, 2013. (Tr. 58-67). On April 1, 2015,
following a hearing, an ALJ found that plaintiff was not
disabled under the Act and that plaintiff had the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to perform jobs that existed in
significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 8-20).
14, 2016, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request
for review. (Tr. 1-5). Thus, plaintiff has exhausted his
administrative remedies, and the ALJ's decision stands as
the final decision of the Commissioner subject to judicial
November 13, 2012, plaintiff visited David Mattson, M.D.,
regarding his seizure disorder. (Tr. 382). Dr. Mattson noted
that plaintiff has stable seizure frequency but still
struggles with smaller intractable events. (Tr. 383). For
example, Dr. Mattson noted that plaintiff has had no definite
generalized tonic-clonic (GTC) seizure, also known as grand
mal seizure, during which plaintiff suddenly loses
consciousness and undergoes intense muscle contraction and
jerking. However, Dr. Mattson noted that plaintiff continued
to have smaller events, referred to as complex partial
seizures (CPS), and feelings of depersonalization. Dr.
Mattson also noted that, per plaintiff's mother,
plaintiff's marijuana use had become more frequent and
that he had been having a hard time focusing during work.
(Tr. 382). Dr. Mattson opined that plaintiff's continued
use of marijuana could be contributing to his persistent
cognitive issues. (Tr. 383). Dr. Mattson emphasized the
significance of plaintiff's “underlying psychiatric
issues and the importance of consistent psychiatric
follow-up.” However, while struggling with low mood,
plaintiff denied having any suicidal or homicidal ideation.
(Tr. 382). Plaintiff's general and neurological exams
both showed normal results. Dr. Mattson offered plaintiff a
referral to Washington University for surgical evaluation and
suggested Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS), but plaintiff
declined this treatment. (Tr. 383).
February 28, 2013, plaintiff returned to Dr. Mattson
regarding his seizure disorder. Dr. Mattson noted that
plaintiff had overall stable seizure frequency with no
definite GTC but was still getting smaller intractable events
about every two weeks. Dr. Mattson reiterated the
significance of plaintiff's underlying psychiatric issues
and the importance of “consistent psychiatric
follow-up.” Plaintiff's general and neurological
exams both showed normal results. (Tr. 379). Again,
emphasizing that plaintiff's chances of seizure freedom
with medication are small, Dr. Mattson offered plaintiff a
referral to Washington University for surgical evaluation and
suggested VNS, but plaintiff still declined. (Tr. 380).
17, 2013, plaintiff returned to Dr. Mattson regarding his
seizure disorder. (Tr. 424). Dr. Mattson noted that plaintiff
had overall been stable until three days prior to the visit,
when he suffered a single GTC. However, Dr. Mattson opined
that this GTC may have been triggered by the narcotics given
to him few days before the event as a treatment for a boil
under his arm. As for smaller intractable events, Dr. Mattson
noted that plaintiff was experiencing events about every two
weeks, as before. (Tr. 424). Dr. Mattson reiterated the
importance of consistent psychiatric follow-up and suggested
options for surgery and VNS, but plaintiff still declined.
(Tr. 424-25). Plaintiff's general and neurological exams
both showed normal results. (Tr. 424).
August 14, 2013, plaintiff visited R. Edward Hogan, M.D., at
Washington University in St. Louis, on Dr. Mattson's
referral, for evaluation of CPS. (Tr. 437). Dr. Hogan noted
that plaintiff first developed seizures in 2006 after taking
methamphetamine daily for two months. At that time, the
seizures occurred approximately once every two and a half
months. (Tr. 437). Dr. Hogan also noted that plaintiff has a
history of alcohol abuse and history of drug abuse with
substances including methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine,
mushrooms, and almost daily marijuana usage since the age of
12. Dr. Hogan listed as risk factors for plaintiff's
epilepsy “drug abuse, family history of seizures, and
hypoxia at birth.” (Tr. 438). Dr. Hogan emphasized that
observations of plaintiff's past neurological activities
via video electroencephalography (EEG) in January 2012,
during which plaintiff was monitored 24 hours for five
consecutive days, revealed that six out of seven events were
non-epileptic seizures. (Tr. 438-39). Moreover, Dr. Hogan
noted that plaintiff's one hour EEG and magnetic
resonance imaging (MRI) test results in September 2009 were
also normal. (Tr. 438). Based on these results, Dr. Hogan
opined that it is “not confirmed that all of
[plaintiff's] symptoms are related to epileptic
seizures.” (Tr. 438-39). As for plaintiff's current
conditions, Dr. Hogan noted that plaintiff rarely experiences
GTC, but has CPS weekly to every two to three weeks. (Tr.
437). Plaintiff's general and neurological exams both
showed normal results. (Tr. 438). Dr. Hogan restricted
plaintiff to “no driving, heights, swimming or bathing
alone, operating heavy machinery or other activities during
which seizures would endanger him or others.” (Tr.
439). Dr. Hogan also suggested plaintiff undergo video EEG
monitoring and epilepsy surgery. Plaintiff only agreed to
video EEG monitoring. (Tr. 439).
September 26, 2013, plaintiff and his mother called Dr. Hogan
at Washington University and expressed their concern about
video EEG monitoring when plaintiff had not had any seizures
in almost eight weeks, worried that it might cause him to
have seizures again. In response, Dr. Hogan reassured
plaintiff and his mother that video EEG monitoring would be
beneficial to plaintiff regardless of his recent seizure
control. Plaintiff agreed to come in for video EEG monitoring
on October 2, 2013. However, plaintiff's mother cancelled
the scheduled video EEG monitoring, against the advice of
both Dr. Hogan and Dr. Mattson. (Tr. 449, 559).
December 17, 2013, plaintiff returned to Dr. Mattson
regarding his seizure disorder. (Tr. 440). Dr. Mattson noted
that plaintiff had stable seizure frequency with no recent
GTC but a CPS about every four to six weeks. Dr. Mattson also
noted that plaintiff failed to follow through on any of the
recommendations he received from Washington University,
including the long-term monitoring. Plaintiff's general
and neurological exams both showed normal results. (Tr. 440).
January 28, 2015, plaintiff testified at a hearing before the
ALJ. (Tr. 23-28; 33-35). Plaintiff stated that he is unable
to work due to epilepsy and that he gets seizures at least
monthly but not quite on a weekly basis. (Tr. 25-27).
Plaintiff stated that seizures make him wander around at
work, lose awareness of his surroundings and of his own
actions, and get massive depression afterwards. (Tr. 25).
Plaintiff stated that he also gets crying spells
“probably daily” from depression, which tends to
get more severe after seizures. (Tr. 26).
mother, Kathy Lindsay, also testified at the hearing. (Tr.
29). She stated that plaintiff gets GTC a lot less with
medication, but he gets either simple or complex partial
seizures on a weekly basis. She stated that if plaintiff
misses partial seizures one week, he might get two the
following week. She stated that right after the seizure
plaintiff loses the sense of taste for few days and that the
left side of his face remains sagged for few hours. (Tr. 31).
She also stated that plaintiff does not want to undergo brain
surgery because it's very doubtful ...