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Brady v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

September 15, 2017

CHRISTINA MARIE BRADY, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,[1] Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          ABBIE CRITES-LEONI, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Christina Marie Brady brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) Commissioner's decision, following continuing disability review finding that she was no longer entitled to previously-granted disability benefits under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. This matter is pending before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge, with consent of the parties, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). A summary of the entire record is presented in the parties' briefs and is repeated here only to the extent necessary.

         I. Procedural History

         On September 22, 2009, Brady was found disabled beginning May 15, 2008, under the applications for disability benefits that she filed on April 11, 2008. (Tr. 65-71.) The ALJ noted that medical improvement was “expected with appropriate treatment.” (Tr. 70.) Consequently, the ALJ recommended a continuing disability review in one year. Id.

         On December 23, 2013, the SSA reviewed Brady's claim for continuing disability, and concluded that Brady was no longer disabled as of December 15, 2013. (Tr. 96-100.) Brady appealed the termination of benefits, and the termination was affirmed upon reconsideration. (Tr. 104-115.) On January 30, 2015, following a hearing, an ALJ found that Brown's disability ended on December 15, 2013, due to medical improvement. (Tr. 14-27.) On May 18, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Brady's request for review of the ALJ's decision. (Tr. 1-3, 6.) Thus, the decision of the ALJ stands as the final decision of the Commissioner.

         In the instant action, Brady argues that the ALJ “failed to fully and fairly develop the record.” (Doc. 17 at 3.)

         II. The ALJ's Determination

         The ALJ made the following findings:

1. The most recent favorable medical decision finding that the claimant was disabled is the decision dated September 22, 2009. This is known as the “comparison point decision” or CPD.
2. At the time of the CPD, the claimant had the following medically determinable impairments: degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, shoulder pain, obesity, dysthymic disorder, hypochondriasis and a personality disorder. These impairments were found to result in the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) except she is unable to do any prolonged sitting, standing or walking. She may occasionally reach, push, pull, balance or climb ladders or scaffolds. She should avoid all exposure to unprotected heights and moving mechanical parts. Finally, she would be limited to performing simple routine tasks in a low-stress environment with limited interaction with supervisors and co-workers.
3. Through December 15, 2013, the date the claimant's disability ended, the claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity (20 CFR 404.1594(f)(1)).
4. The medical evidence establishes that, as of December 15, 2013, the claimant had the following medically determinable impairments: tendonitis of left shoulder and bilateral ankles, obesity, and depression.
5. Since December 15, 2013, the claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments which met or medically equaled the severity of an impairment listed in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1525 and 404.1526).
6. Medical improvement occurred as of December 15, 2013 (20 CFR 404.1594(b)(1)).
7. As of December 15, 2013, the impairments present at the time of the CPD had decreased in medical severity to the point where the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations: She can frequently reach overhead with both upper extremities.
8. The claimant's medical improvement is related to the ability to work because it resulted in an increase in the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR 404.1594(c)(3)(ii)).
9. As of December 15, 2013, the claimant continued to have a severe impairment or combination of impairments (20 CFR 404.1594(f)(6)).
10. Based on the impairments present as of December 15, 2013, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations: She can (1) stand, sit and walk for four hours at a time and 8 hours in a workday, each; (2) frequently reach overhead with both upper extremities, and has no other limitations with regards to her upper extremities; (3) frequently climb stairs, ramps, ladders, and scaffolds, and she can frequently crawl; (4) have occasional exposure to unprotected heights; and (5) tolerate frequent exposure to moving mechanical parts. Further, she can (1) understand, remember, and carry out simple instructions; (2) have occasional interaction with supervisors, co-workers, and the public; and (3) make simple, work-related decisions, and tolerate occasional change in work location.
11. As of December 15, 2013, the claimant was unable to perform past relevant work ...

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