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Rook v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

March 29, 2019

ROXANN ROOK, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner for Operations, Social Security Administration Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RODNEY W. SIPPEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Roxann Rook brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's decision denying her application for disability insurance benefits and disabled widow benefits. Because the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole, I will affirm the Commissioner's decision.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Roxann Rook filed an application for disability insurance benefits with a protective filing date of January 14, 2014, and an application for disabled widow's benefits with a protective filing date of January 16, 2014, pursuant to Title II, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401 et seq. (Tr. 91-92). Both applications alleged that her disability began on August 30, 2013. Rook's applications were denied on initial consideration. (Tr. 95-105). She requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Rook, accompanied by counsel, attended the hearing on January 22, 2016. (Tr. 34). On April 22, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision denying Rook's application concluding that Rook was not under a disability. (Tr. 21-29). On June 9, 2017, the Appeals Council denied Rook's request for review. (Tr. 1-6). Rook asserts that she is disabled due to osteoarthritis pain in her hands, back, hips, and knees.

         Rook filed the present appeal for judicial review, seeking remand to the ALJ because: 1) the ALJ's determination of Rook's residual functional capacity was not supported by the medical evidence of record; 2) the ALJ did not properly weigh Rook's testimony at the hearing; and 3) the ALJ failed to weigh a report submitted by Rook's former employer.

         Administrative Record

         For evidentiary purposes, I have considered Rook's Statement of Uncontroverted Material Facts (Doc. 12) and the Commissioner's Statement of Additional Material Facts (Doc. 17). Both parties admit these facts with clarifications.

         ALJ Decision

         The ALJ found that Rook met the insured-status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2018. (Tr. 23). He found that Rook had not engaged in substantial gainful activity from her alleged onset date of June 30, 2013. (Id. at 24). He also found that Rook suffers from the following severe impairments: “osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease.” (Id.). The ALJ found that this combination of severe impairments did not equate to one of the listings denominated in 20 CFR 404, Subpt. P, App. 1. (Id. at 25).

         After evaluating Rooks's claims, the medical opinion evidence, and the medical evidence of record, the ALJ determined that Rook retained the residual functioning capacity (RFC) to:

perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except she can occasionally kneel, crouch, crawl, stoop, and climb ladders and scaffolds; she can frequently balance and climb ramps and stairs; and, she can have occasional exposure to unprotected heights, moving mechanical parts, and vibration.

(Id.).

         Based on this RFC determination, the ALJ found that Rook was able to perform her past relevant work as a cashier and clerk typist and that there were other jobs in the national economy that she is also able to perform. (Tr. 27). The ALJ consulted a vocational expert (VE) to assess whether jobs within Rook's RFC existed in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 28). The VE identified the jobs of general office clerk and data entry clerk. The VE identified 5, 400 general office clerk jobs and 4, 000 data entry clerk jobs in the State of Missouri. (Id.). The ALJ therefore determined that Rook was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. (Id.).

         LEGAL ...


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