United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PATRICIA L. COHEN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Phillips (“Plaintiff”) seeks review of Acting
Commissioner Berryhill's (“Defendant”) denial
of her applications for Supplemental Security Income and
Disability Insurance Benefits under the Social Security Act
(SSA). Because substantial evidence supports the
decision to deny benefits, the Court affirms the denial of
Background and Procedural History
filed applications for Disability Insurance Benefits and for
Supplemental Security Income on April 5, 2013, alleging that
her disability commenced on December 31, 2010 (Tr. 192-204).
The SSA denied Plaintiff's claims, and Plaintiff
requested a hearing before an administrative law judge. (Tr.
73-83, 84-94, 104-05). Following a hearing, the ALJ issued a
decision on August 14, 2014 and found that Plaintiff was not
under a disability, within the meaning of the SSA, from
December 31, 2010 through the date of the ALJ's decision.
(Tr. 6- 24). The SSA Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
subsequent request for review. (Tr. 1-4). Plaintiff has
exhausted all administrative remedies, and the ALJ's
decision stands as the Commissioner's final decision.
Evidence Before the ALJ
appeared with counsel at the administrative hearing.
Plaintiff testified, as did three doctors: Goldstein, Akins
and Watts. (Tr. 25-72).
Goldstein reviewed Plaintiff's medical records at the
request of the ALJ. (Tr. 30). His description of
Plaintiff's impairments was as follows: hypothyroidism,
history of migraine headaches and sinusitis, and major
depression. (Tr. 30-31). He identified Plaintiff's
“major medical problems” as hypothyroidism. (Tr.
31) In Dr. Goldstein's opinion, none of Plaintiff's
impairments individually met or equaled a listed impairment.
Id. In particular, Plaintiff's hypothyroidism
was controlled with medication. Id. Dr. Goldstein
described Plaintiff's residual functional capacity as
I think she can definitely sit. She can use her hands. She
can lift her arms. She could occasionally walk stairs.
… But I think she can sit for two hours to three hours
at a time. She can do that with usual breaks at least six
hours a day. She can stand 30 minutes at a time, and do that
at least two hours.
counsel cross-examined Dr. Goldstein and established that his
opinions were limited to the impact of Plaintiff's
hypothyroidism. (Tr. 32-34). Dr. Goldstein declined to
comment on Plaintiff's anxiety, mood disorder or
depression. (Tr. 34).
Akins, a psychiatrist, appeared at the request of the ALJ.
(Tr. 35). Prior to his testimony, Dr. Akins reviewed
Plaintiff's medical records. Id. Dr. Akins did
not examine Plaintiff. (Tr. 36).
Akins confirmed that Plaintiff had a mood disorder due to
hypothyroidism and an alternative diagnosis of depressive
disorder, “coincident to hypothyroidism.”
Id. Dr. Akins also stated that Plaintiff's
history included anxiety around people. Id. Dr.
Akins concluded that “none of the symptoms appear to
have a major impact on work” so he “would have to
say a listing is not met or equaled, and that's with
regard to functional ...