United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
G. FLEISSIG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
action is before this Court for judicial review of the final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security finding that
Plaintiff Michele Jacobson was not disabled, and thus not
entitled to disability insurance benefits under Title II of
the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434. For
the reasons set forth below, the decision of the Commissioner
will be affirmed.
Court adopts the statement of facts set forth in
Plaintiff's Statement of Uncontroverted Facts, which is
contained in Plaintiff's brief (ECF No. 16-1), as
supplemented by Defendant (ECF No. 22-1), and Defendant's
Statement of Additional Facts (ECF No. 22-2), which Plaintiff
has not opposed. Together, these statements provide a fair
description of the record before the Court. Specific facts
will be discussed as needed to address the parties'
who was born on July 8, 1967, filed her applications for
benefits on March 25, 2014. She alleged disability beginning
May 5, 2012,  due to illiteracy, bipolar disorder, a
tumor surrounding her pituitary gland, tendonitis, and low
bone density. On April 22, 2014, Plaintiff's
applications were denied at the administrative level, and she
thereafter requested a hearing before an Administrative Law
an initial hearing, a denial of Plaintiff's claim by the
ALJ, and a remand by the Appeals Council of the Social
Security Administration,  a re-hearing was held on
September 7, 2017. Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel,
and VE Jeffrey Francis Magrowski, Ph.D., testified at the
hearing. Plaintiff's counsel stipulated to the VE's
qualifications to testify as a VE. Tr. 89.
hearing, the ALJ referred to a Reading Assessment Report
dated July 19, 2016, which was completed by psychologist
Sandra Carusa, Ph.D., after she examined Plaintiff. Dr.
Carusa administered the Wide Range Achievement Test, Fourth
Edition (WRAT4), and she reported that Plaintiff's
reading composite score and word reading ability were both
profoundly impaired at less than the 1st percentile; and
Plaintiff's spelling was severely impaired at the 1st
percentile. Dr. Carusa further reported that Plaintiff's
grade level reading was approximately at the second grade and
that Plaintiff's reading deficits left her functionally
unable to read. Tr. 618-19.
hearing, the ALJ asked the VE about Plaintiff's past
relevant work as a cashier, in light of this Reading
Assessment Report. Plaintiff had testified at the initial
hearing that she previously worked as a cashier at several
retail stores; for example, she testified that she worked at
Target for seven years with good performance reviews before
she quit to find a higher paying job. Tr. 40-45.
engaged the VE in the following line of questioning with
respect to Plaintiff's past work:
Q Dr. Magrowski, we previously classified [Plaintiff's]
work. In your opinion, as well as per the [Dictionary of
Occupational Titles (“DOT”)], could a person who
has - well, let me ask you maybe a different way, is that
[Plaintiff] had testing done indicating her - based upon the
scores indicated that [Plaintiff] was unable to functionally
read. Okay, in your estimation would that be a Reading Level
A It sounds like it and it's not compatible with the DOT
and the jobs she's done.
Q In your opinion, could a person with Reading Level Zero, an
ability to functionally read be able to perform that work?
A No. because, according to the DOT and I looked it up, these
jobs require at least a language level of 2 and they're
able to read comic books, adventure books and use a
dictionary and these jobs are considered semiskilled with [a
Specific Vocational Preparation (“SVP”)] Of 3.
Q Now based upon - now understanding that the DOT is somewhat
outdated and antiquated, do you have an opinion as to whether
or not in the current national economy a person who is not
able to functionally read could perform that work?
Q I'm sorry?
A I don't believe she could.
A I do have an opinion and I don't believe that she could
Q Well, but a person with an ability to functionally read
would not be able to perform that work in the ...