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Schmittling v. Berryhill

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

March 6, 2018

DANIEL SCHMITTLING, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          ABBIE CRITES-LEONI, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Daniel Schmittling brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of the Social Security Administration Commissioner's denial of his application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act.

         An Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found that, despite Schmittling's severe physical and mental impairments, he was not disabled through his date last insured as he had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy.

         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.

         For the following reasons, the decision of the Commissioner will be affirmed.

         I. Procedural History

         Schmittling filed an application for DIB on September 9, 2013, claiming that he became unable to work on March 1, 2012, [1] because of bipolar disorder, manic depression, anxiety, panic disorder, kidney dysfunction, diabetes insipidus, and high blood pressure. (Tr. 212-14, 246.) Schmittling's claim was denied initially. (Tr. 112-16.) Following an administrative hearing, Schmittling's claim was denied in a written opinion by an ALJ, dated August 13, 2015. (Tr. 12-31.) Schmittling then filed a request for review of the ALJ's decision with the Appeals Council of the Social Security Administration (SSA), which was denied on August 24, 2016. (Tr. 10, 1-3.) Thus, the decision of the ALJ stands as the final decision of the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. '' 404.981, 416.1481.

         In the instant action, Schmittling argues in his single claim that the ALJ erred in “making a mistake of fact.” (Doc. 23 at 13.) Specifically, Schmittling contends that the ALJ considered a hearsay statement made by Schmittling to his counselor as fact of the information stated by Plaintiff. Id.

         II. The ALJ's Determination

         The ALJ found that Schmittling last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on December 31, 2014, and did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from his alleged onset date of March 1, 2012, through his date last insured of December 31, 2014. (Tr. 17.)

         In addition, the ALJ concluded that Schmittling had the following severe impairments through the date last insured: kidney disease, diabetes insipidus, obesity, depression/bipolar, anxiety, and a history of substance abuse. Id. The ALJ found that Schmittling did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments. (Tr. 18.)

         As to Schmittling's RFC, the ALJ stated:

After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that, through the date last insured, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c), in that he can lift and carry up to 50 pounds occasionally and lift or carry up to 25 pounds frequently; stand and/or walk for six hours out of an eight-hour workday; and sit for six hours out of an eight-hour workday. The claimant should never climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds, work at unprotected heights, or with moving mechanical parts. The claimant can perform simple, routine and repetitive tasks in a work environment free of fast-paced production requirements involving only simple, work-related decisions with only occasional workplace changes. The claimant can have occasional interaction with supervisors, coworkers, and the general public.

(Tr. 21.)

         The ALJ found that Schmittling's allegations regarding the extent of his limitations were not entirely credible. (Tr. 25.) In determining Schmittling's RFC, the ALJ indicated that he was assigning “partial weight” to the opinions of treating psychiatrist Sameer Arain, M.D., and nurse practitioner Olivia Jones. (Tr. 24-25.)

         The ALJ further found that Schmittling was unable to perform past relevant work, but was capable of performing other jobs existing in the national economy, such as linen room attendant, dishwasher, and hand packager. (Tr. 25-26.) The ALJ therefore concluded that Schmittling was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, at any time from March 1, 2012, the alleged onset date, through December 31, 2014, the date last insured. (Tr. 27.)

         The ALJ's final decision reads as follows:

Based on the application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits protectively filed on September 5, 2013, the claimant was not disabled under sections 216(i) and 223(d) of the Social Security Act ...

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