United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
D. NOCE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
action is before the court for judicial review of the final
decision of the defendant Commissioner of Social Security
denying in part the application of plaintiff Nicolle Essman
for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the
Social Security Act (Act), 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434.
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
was born on June 26, 1978 and was 38 years old at the time of
her hearing. She filed her application on September 14, 2014,
alleging a July 30, 2014 onset date and alleging disability
due to bipolar disorder, back pain, foot pain, hip pain, and
postpartum depression. (Tr. 155-56, 179). Her application was
denied, and she requested a hearing before an Administrative
Law Judge (ALJ). (Tr. 91-98).
January 12, 2017, following a hearing, an ALJ issued a
decision finding that plaintiff was not disabled under the
Act. (Tr. 18-27). The Appeals Council denied her request for
review. (Tr. 1-6). Thus, the decision of the ALJ stands as
the final decision of the Commissioner.
following is a summary of plaintiff's medical and other
history relevant to this appeal.
August 20, 2014, plaintiff met with Keya B. Hindia, D.O., an
internist, for follow-up to her recent hospitalization after
a failed suicide attempt. She was positive for myalgias and
back pain, and having dysphoric mood. She was diagnosed with
major depressive disorder. (Tr. 232-33). She underwent a
psychological evaluation that same day at Psych Care
Consultants and was diagnosed with post-partum depression and
bipolar disorder. She was assigned a GAF score of 45,
indicating moderate symptoms. (Tr. 257-59).
underwent chiropractic treatment at Baker Chiropractic from
August 27, 2014 to October 17, 2016. (Tr. 435-53). An x-ray
of her sacrum and coccyx taken on August 29, 2014 was
negative. An x-ray of her lumbar spine showed a healing
compression fracture at ¶ 2. (Tr. 236-37).
September 3 to October 8, 2014, plaintiff underwent
counseling at Psych Care Consultants. She was assigned GAF
scores ranging from 52 to 55, indicating mild symptoms. (Tr.
saw a psychiatrist, Berette Salazar, M.D., from September 29
through November 26, 2014. Dr. Salazar diagnosed bipolar
disorder and prescribed Zyprexa, used to treat bipolar
disorder, and Klonopin, for anxiety. Plaintiff's mood was
stable and her insight good at a November 26, 2014
appointment. (Tr. 263-73).
September 30, 2014, plaintiff saw Dr. Hindia and reported
ongoing lower back pain radiating to the right hip. (Tr.
571). From December 2, 2014 through January 14, 2015,
plaintiff underwent physical therapy for joint pain in the
left leg, sacroiliitis, and lumbosacral spondylosis. (Tr.
December 8, 2014, plaintiff saw Dr. Rachel Feinburg, a pain
management specialist. Plaintiff was diagnosed with a
fracture of L2, thoracic and lumbar spondylosis, severe
hypermobility, and bipolar disorder. (Tr. 281). She saw Dr.
Feinburg again on January 7, 2015, and received trigger point
and facet injections. Plaintiff reported that her knee pain
was completely gone and her low back pain was at least 40%
improved. (Tr. 485-88).
January 19, 2015, plaintiff saw Sandra Tate, M.D., for an
independent medical examination. Dr. Tate's impression
was back pain with L2 compression fracture, bilateral leg
pain, and bipolar disorder. Dr. Tate stated she should not
lift more than 30 pounds, not ...