United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
CRITES-LEONI, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Kathy Smith brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), seeking judicial review of the Social Security
Administration Commissioner's denial of her applications
for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under
Title II of the Social Security Act and Supplemental Security
Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Act.
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found that,
despite Smith's severe impairments, she was not disabled
as she had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform past relevant work as a
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.
following reasons, the decision of the Commissioner will be
reversed and remanded.
filed applications for DIB and SSI on December 9, 2013,
claiming that she became unable to work on October 15, 2013,
because of breast cancer, arthritis in the lower back and
right hip, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a
history of double mastectomy. (Tr. 143-56.) Smith was 55
years of age on her alleged onset of disability date.
Id. Her claims were denied initially. (Tr. 85-89.)
Following an administrative hearing, Smith's claims were
denied in a written opinion by an ALJ, dated November 19,
2015. (Tr. 13-21.) Smith 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 November
21, 2016. (Tr. 7, 1-5.) Thus, the decision of the ALJ stands
as the final decision of the Commissioner. See 20
C.F.R. '' 404.981, 416.1481.
instant action, Smith argues that the ALJ erred “by
failing to provide a proper RFC in that the ALJ did not
adequately evaluate the opinion of the treating physician and
did not support the credibility assessment with substantial
evidence.” (Doc. 9 at 7.)
The ALJ's Determination
first noted that Smith met the insured status requirements of
the Social Security Act through September 30, 2018, and has
not engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 15,
2013, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 15.)
addition, the ALJ concluded that Smith had the following
severe impairments: degenerative disc disease-back;
degenerative joint disease-hip; and history of breast cancer.
The ALJ found that Smith did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the
severity of one of the listed impairments. (Tr. 17.)
Smith's RFC, the ALJ stated:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in
20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a)(sit for 6 of 8 hours in a
work day; stand for 2 of 8 hours in a work day; lift and/or
carry 10 pounds frequently or occasionally) except she can
frequently climb ramps and stairs, and can frequently stoop.
She can only occasionally climb ladders, ropes, and
found that Smith's allegations regarding the extent of
her limitations were not entirely credible. (Tr. 18.) In
determining Smith's RFC, the ALJ indicated that he was
assigning “significant weight” to the opinions of
treating physician Philma Opinaldo, M.D. (Tr. 20.)
further found that Smith was capable of performing past
relevant work as a billing clerk. (Tr. 21.) The ALJ therefore
concluded that Smith was not under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from October 15, 2013, through
the date of the decision. Id.
ALJ's final decision reads as follows:
Based on the application for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits filed on December 9, 2013, the
claimant is not disabled under sections 216(i) and ...