United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
KATHERINE G. BRUGMANN, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner of Operations, Social Security Administration, Defendant.
CRITES-LEONI, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Katherine G. Brugmann brings this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of the Social
Security Administration Commissioner's denial of her
application 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 Brugmann's severe impairments, she was not
disabled as she had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform work existing in significant
numbers in the national economy.
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 her applications for benefits on May 12, 2014, claiming
that she became unable to work on November 20, 2013. (Tr.
298-312.) In her Disability Report, she alleged disability
due to bipolar disorder, general anxiety disorder,
post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”),
depression, and chronic migraines. (Tr. 339.) Brugmann was 34
years of age at the time of her alleged onset of disability.
Her claims were denied initially. (Tr. 232-37.) Following an
administrative hearing, Brugmann's claims were denied in
a written opinion by an ALJ, dated March 10, 2017. (Tr.
17-33.) Brugmann 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
20, 2017. (Tr. 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.
action, Brugmann first argues that the ALJ “failed to
properly consider RFC.” (Doc. 18 at 3.) She next argues
that the ALJ “failed to fully and fairly develop the
evidence.” Id. at 10.
The ALJ's Determination
first found that Brugmann met the insured status requirements
of the Act through December 31, 2016. (Tr. 22.) Brugmann had
not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November
20, 2013, the application date. Id. In addition, the
ALJ concluded that Brugmann had the following severe
impairments: bipolar disorder, depression, and chronic
headaches. Id. The ALJ found that Brugmann did not
have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets
or medically equals the severity of one of the listed
impairments. (Tr. 23.)
Brugmann'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 a range of work at all
exertional levels but with the following nonexertional
limitations: She should never be required to work around
hazards, such as unprotected heights and she must avoid
exposure to concentrated vibration as well as dust, odors,
fumes and other pulmonary irritants. She can only work in
environments with moderate noise levels. She is limited to
performing simple, routine tasks and work requiring only
simple work-related decisions. She is capable of frequent
interactions with supervisors and co-workers, but should be
limited to only occasional contact with the public.
found that Brugmann was unable to perform any past relevant
work, but was capable of performing jobs existing in
significant numbers in the national economy, such as hand
packer, laundry/dry cleaning, and janitor. (Tr. 27-28.) The
ALJ therefore concluded that Brugmann was not under a
disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from
November 20, 2013, through the date of the decision. (Tr.
ALJ's final decision reads as follows:
Based on the application for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits filed on May 12, 2014, the
claimant is not disabled under sections 216(i) and 223(d) of
the Social Security Act.
Based on the application for supplemental security income
protectively filed on May 12, 2014, the claimant is not
disabled under section 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social Security