United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
JAMES D. MEYERS, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
D. NOCE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
action is before the Court for judicial review of the final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security finding that
plaintiff James D. Meyers is not disabled under the Social
Security Act and, thus, is not entitled to Supplemental
Security Income under Title XVI of the Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1381-1385. 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
Commissioner is affirmed.
was born on December 8, 1955. He protectively filed his
application for supplemental security income on February 18,
2014, alleging a disability onset date of February 18, 2014,
due to back, left knee, left hand, and mental problems.
Plaintiff's application was denied initially and he
requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
March 2, 2016, an ALJ conducted a hearing. However, during
the hearing the ALJ decided that a second, supplemental
hearing should be held following further, consultative
examinations of plaintiff's left knee and his
psychological condition. The second hearing was held on
August 31, 2016. On September 23, 2016, the ALJ issued a
decision that concluded plaintiff was not disabled.
Plaintiff's request that the ALJ's decision be
administratively reviewed was denied by the Appeals Council.
The ALJ's decision stands as the final agency decision
now under review.
has a history of right hand injury dating back to 2007. In
November 2007, his right hand was diagnosed as infected. In
February 2014, after being caught in a welding machine,
plaintiff sustained traumatic laceration and punctures to
both of his forearms. He was diagnosed with traumatic
cellulitis in both arms.
April 17, 2014, David McCollister, M.D. excised several
linear ulcers from both of plaintiff's forearms. On May
7, 2014, Dr. McCollister removed the sutures and diagnosed a
bacterial skin infection. Dr. McCollister referred plaintiff
to a dermatologist.
14, 2014, plaintiff visited the St. Joseph Health Center for
emergency treatment of swelling and pain in both forearms. He
returned to the same emergency room on May 25, 2014, due to
increased pain in both arms. He reported he had not followed
up with the doctor as directed. The doctor working in the
emergency department at that time noted that plaintiff had
multiple deep pitting, large ulcerative lesions in both
forearms, but nevertheless had normal range of motion and no
tenderness. The doctor prescribed hydrocodone-acetaminophen
for pain and bactroban ointment.
11, 2014, Wahied Gendi, M.D., began treating plaintiff as his
primary care physician. On that day, Dr. Gendi summarized
plaintiff's prior accidents as involving a burn to his
forearms while using welding equipment, for which he had
surgery in April.
August 13, 2014, on a two-page check-box type form, Dr. Gendi
reported his limited functionality opinions that plaintiff
could only occasionally carry ten pounds or less, and rarely
lift and carry more than 10 pounds; could occasionally twist
but rarely stoop, bend, crouch, or climb ladders or stairs;
could not reach, handle, or feel more than occasionally, nor
use his fingers for fine manipulation more than rarely. (Tr.
in August 2014, Dr. Gendi noted that there was no clubbing,
cyanosis, or edema on plaintiff's extremities and that
both forearms were improving. (Tr. 409). On September 2 and
October 3, 2014, Dr. Gendi found plaintiff had a normal range
of motion with no inflammation, effusion, or deformity. (Tr.
monthly visits on November 4, 2014; December 5, 2014; and
January 8, 2015, Dr. Gendi's findings remained the same
as on October 3, 2014, except that he noted plaintiff's
forearm ulcer worsened because of a mild skin breakdown. (Tr.
533, 547, 562).
February 5, 2015, Dr. Gendi's colleague, Idelle Fraser,
M.D., examined plaintiff and noted he had no clubbing,
cyanosis, or edema in his extremities. She opined he had
normal ranges of motion without inflammation, effusion, or
deformity, but with some mild skin ulcer and healing fibrous
tissue on both forearms. (Tr. 576).
20, 2015, plaintiff went to the St. Joseph Health Center
Emergency Room complaining of generalized pain; the
examination showed he had normal range of motion and faded
scarring. (Tr. 458-60).
March 2, 2016, an ALJ conducted the first hearing in which
plaintiff testified to the following. He lived by himself and
had been self-employed in construction. However, he had not
been able to work for some years, and his sister helped him
pay his monthly bills. In 2014, plaintiff injured his back,
helping a friend lift an item. He also burned and cut his
arms when he was “playing with” a machine his
friend built. Plaintiff testified he first contacted Dr.
Gendi on June 11, 2014. Dr. Gendi was his primary treating
physician for both of his arm injuries. At the hearing,
plaintiff claimed he had a skin issue and his arms were
getting worse. Plaintiff suggested he also had some problems
with his knees. At the end of the hearing, the ALJ ordered