United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
DEBRA R. ROBINSON, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court, pursuant to the Social Security
Act (“the Act”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g),
1383(c)(3), authorizing judicial review of the final decision
of the Commissioner of Social Security denying
Plaintiff's Title XVI application for Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”) under 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1381 et seq. For the reasons discussed below,
the Commissioner's decision is affirmed.
originally filed a claim for Supplemental Security Income
benefits under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381 et seq., on
September 15, 2010. After the claim was denied Plaintiff
filed a request for a hearing which was held and another
Administrative Law Judge issued an unfavorable decision.
Plaintiff requested review by the Appeals Council, which
request was denied on February 3, 2014. Pursuit of that claim
April 3, 2014 Plaintiff filed a claim for supplemental
security benefits alleging disability beginning November 30,
2012. It is the denial of that claim which is the subject of
August 17, 2016 a hearing was conducted by ALJ Robert G.
O'Blennis in Creve Coeur, Missouri. Plaintiff appeared in
person and with counsel. Also in appearance was Harold
Taylor, a Vocational Expert.
was born on July 31, 1956. She was 60 years old at the time
of hearing on August 17, 2016. Plaintiff has a tenth grade
education and was not successful in securing her GED,
although she attempted on two occasions. She has had work
training and experience as a beautician. She was about 57
years old at the time of onset. There is testimony that
Plaintiff lives with her 22 year old grandson.
testified that the basis for her condition is the result of a
fall she experienced while working at a fast food restaurant.
She noted it was a real bad fall and “messed” up
three discs in her back. Surgery was recommended but she
opted for therapy, exercises and chiropractic care.
was testimony from Plaintiff that she takes gabapentin and
ibuprofen. She also sees Dr. Spearman, Dr. Walls, and Dr.
Hilliard for treatment of her malady. She testified that she
also takes sertraline and Focalin for her depression as well
as something for her anxiety.
her examination Plaintiff testified she had difficulty
mopping, sweeping, lifting clothes, and wringing a mop
because it was too difficult on her arms and hands. On the
issue of her mental state she testified she hears voices all
the time all day; that she was traumatized as a child who was
the victim of sexual abuse; that she doesn't like to be
around people and doesn't want to be around people. She
further testified that as long as she stays on her meds her
psychiatric condition stays the same.
the Vocational Expert, Harold Taylor, testified without any
objection to his qualifications. Taylor testified as to the
past work of Plaintiff as a phlebotomist which is light
exertional and semiskilled. She also had past work as a
receptionist, which is sedentary and semiskilled. Further,
based upon a proper hypothetical, with specific limitations
of: only lifting 50 pounds on occasion and 25 pounds
frequently; occasionally climbing ramps and stairs;
occasionally stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling;
avoiding climbing ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; avoiding
working at unprotected dangerous height and around
unprotected dangerous machinery; frequent reaching in front
or bilaterally with the left upper extremity; and the person
should avoid jobs with whole body vibration, the Vocational
expert testified there would be work available for Plaintiff,
including her past relevant work. However, if there was
further limitation to medium level with restrictions of
occasional use of bilateral upper extremities and lifting and
reaching there would be no jobs available. If the person was
limited to simple and/or repetitive which did not require
close interaction with the public her past work would be
excluded but there would be jobs available at the medium
level of exertion. Mr. Taylor also testified that the work
was consistent the DOT and Selected Characteristics of
the ALJ held, on November 4, 2016, that Plaintiff was not
under any disability since the date the application was filed
on April 3, 2014. The ALJ found that Plaintiff had severe
impairments which included bilateral osteoarthritis of
glenohumeral and acromioclavicular joints and major
depressive disorder. The ALJ found that she did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments listed in or
medically equal to one contained in 20 C.F.R. part 404,
subpart P, appendix 1. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff
retained the RFC to perform medium work except she can lift
and carry fifty pounds occasionally and twenty-five pounds
frequently. In addition she can climb ramps and stairs but
never ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. Plaintiff can
occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. She has to
avoid work at unprotected heights and around dangerous
machinery. She can frequently reach in front and laterally
bilaterally. She can reach overhead bilaterally frequently,
but not repetitively. The ALJ concluded there were no limits
on handling and fingering objects and she must avoid work
that would expose her whole body to vibrations. Finally, the
ALJ found that Plaintiff was able to perform work that
involves simple and/or repetitive tasks with no close
interaction with people. Consequently, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff was not disabled.
September 27, 2017, the Social Security Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review. Plaintiff has
exhausted her administrative remedies, and the decision of
the ALJ stands as the final decision of the Commissioner
subject to judicial review.
of the Issues
general issues in a Social Security case are whether the
final decision of the Commissioner is consistent with the
Social Security Act, regulations, and applicable case law,
and whether the findings of fact are supported by substantial
evidence on the record as a whole. The specific issues in
this case are whether there is substantial evidence in
support of the Residual Functional Capacity determination and
whether the ALJ properly considered medical opinion evidence
in making that determination.
explained below, the Court has considered the entire record
in this matter. The decision of the Commissioner is supported
by substantial evidence and it will be affirmed.
for Determining Disability
standard of review here is limited to a determination of
whether the decision is supported by substantial evidence on
the record as a whole. See Milam v. Colvin, 794 F.3d
978, 983 (8th Cir. 2015). Substantial evidence is less than
preponderance, but enough that a reasonable mind ...