United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
ANNETTE M. WECKHERLIN, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security,  Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
G. FLEISSIG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
action is before this Court for judicial review of the final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security finding that
Plaintiff Annette Weckherlin was not disabled, and thus not
entitled to disability insurance benefits under Title II of
the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434. For
the reasons set forth below, the decision of the Commissioner
will be affirmed.
who was born on January 23, 1983, filed her application for
benefits on February 24, 2014, alleging disability beginning
January 22, 2014, due to depression, anxiety, carpal tunnel
syndrome, back pain, and migraines. On April 9, 2014,
Plaintiff's application was denied at the initial
administrative level, and she thereafter requested a hearing
before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”).
hearing was held on January 6, 2015, at which Plaintiff and a
vocational expert (“VE”) testified. Although
Plaintiff was informed of her right to representation, she
appeared and testified without the assistance of an attorney.
By decision dated May 18, 2015, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
perform “light work” as defined by the
Commissioner's regulations, except that:
She cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, and she can
perform no more than occasional climbing of ramps and stairs
and occasional balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, and
crawling. She needs to avoid unprotected heights and
dangerous or moving machinery. In addition, [she] would need
an unskilled, simple, routine, repetitive job with only
occasional interaction with supervisors, coworkers, and the
public and with no fast-paced or high production quotas.
next found that Plaintiff could perform certain light
unskilled jobs listed in the Dictionary of Occupational
Titles (“DOT”) (housekeeping, mail room clerk,
and merchandise marker) that the VE had stated a person with
Plaintiff's RFC and vocational factors (age, education,
work experience) could perform and that were available in
significant numbers in the national economy. In a footnote,
the ALJ further stated that, although Plaintiff's RFC
made her capable of this light unskilled work, even if the
ALJ had “reduced the ‘light' baseline
capacity to the ‘sedentary' level, ” there
were still a significant number of jobs in the national
economy that Plaintiff could perform, as confirmed by the VE,
including the sedentary unskilled jobs of address clerk,
account clerk, and bench sorter. Tr. 28 n.4.
the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled under the
Social Security Act. Plaintiff's request for review by
the Appeals Council of the Social Security Administration was
denied on August 23, 2016. Plaintiff has thus exhausted all
administrative remedies, and the ALJ's decision stands as
the final agency action now under review.
who is now represented by counsel, argues that “[t]he
ALJ's [RFC] finding is too vague to allow meaningful
review or to satisfy the specificity required by regulation
and policy, in that a limit to ‘light exertion'
could have a variety of different meanings, and the phrase
‘no fast-paced or high production quotas' is overly
vague.” ECF No. 13 at 2. Plaintiff also argues that the
ALJ improperly relied upon the VE's testimony without
establishing a reasonable basis for that testimony. With
respect to the latter argument, Plaintiff contends that,
because the hypothetical questions the ALJ posed to the VE
included “functional limitations that are not described
by the DOT, ” the ALJ was required to inquire further
as to the basis for the VE's testimony. Id. at
5-6. Plaintiff asks that the ALJ's decision be reversed
and the case remanded for an award of benefits or,
alternatively, for further development of the record.
Records, Medical Records, Evidentiary Hearing, and ALJ's
Court adopts the unopposed facts set forth in Plaintiff's
Statement of Uncontroverted Material Facts (ECF No. 13-1), as
amended by Defendant to exclude Plaintiff's legal
arguments (ECF No. 20). These statements provide a fair
description of the record before the Court. Specific facts
will be discussed as needed to address the parties'
of Review and ...