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St. Cyre v. Saul

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

June 28, 2019

DIANE ST. CYRE, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, [1] Commissioner of Social Security. Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DAVID D. NOCE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This action is before the Court for judicial review of the final decision of the defendant Commissioner of Social Security denying the applications of plaintiff Diane St. Cyre for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and supplemental security income (“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401, et seq; § 1601, et seq. 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 decision of the Commissioner is affirmed.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Diane St. Cyre, who was born on June 1, 1969, filed her DIB and SSI applications on November 14, 2014.[2] (Tr. 2616, 2633-35). She alleged a disability onset date of February 1, 2014, due to aortic dissection, arthritis and knee pain, lymphedema, depression, congestive heart failure, two bulging discs, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, high blood pressure, gallstones, and difficulty sitting and walking. (Tr. 2616-17). Her application was denied by a disability examiner on April 1, 2015, (Tr. 2629-31), but plaintiff appealed the decision and requested a hearing by an administrative law judge. (Tr. 2646).

         On January 18, 2017, plaintiff appeared before an ALJ. (Tr. 2560-2600). A vocational expert also testified at the hearing. (Id.). On April 28, 2017, the ALJ denied plaintiff's applications. (Tr. 2541-54). On February 20, 2018, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-7), and the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner now before this Court for review. 20 C.F.R. § 404.984(b)(2).

         II. MEDICAL HISTORY

         The Court adopts the parties' several statements of uncontroverted material facts (Docs. 21, 26). These facts, taken together, present a fair and accurate summary of the medical record and testimony at the evidentiary hearing. The Court discusses specific facts as they are relevant to the parties' arguments.

         III. DECISION OF THE ALJ

         At Step One, the ALJ found that plaintiff met the insured status requirements and had not engaged in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged disability onset date of February 1, 2014, through her date she was last insured on December 31, 2018. (Tr. 2543). At Step Two, the ALJ found that plaintiff had the severe impairments of left knee osteoarthritis, chondromalacia of the patella, patellar misalignment syndrome, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic aortic dissection, obesity, and major depression. (Tr. 2543-44). At Step Three, the ALJ found that plaintiff had no impairments or combination of impairments that met or were the medical equivalent of an impairment on the Commissioner's list of presumptively disabling impairments. (Tr. 2544-46); see also 20 C.F.R. § Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App. 1.

         The ALJ then found that plaintiff:

has the residual functional capacity [(“RFC”)] to lift up to 10 pounds occasionally and lift/carry up to 10 pounds frequently. She can stand/walk for about two hours and sit for up to six hours in an eight-hour workday, with normal breaks. She can never climb ramps, stairs, ladders, ropes or scaffolds. She can occasionally balance with a hand held assistive device as in a cane. She can occasionally stoop and crouch, but never kneel and crawl. She should avoid exposure to extreme cold and extreme heat. She should avoid exposure to irritants such as fumes, odors, dust, gases and poorly ventilated areas. She should avoid exposure to chemicals. She should avoid unprotected heights and exposure to hazardous machinery. Her work is limited to simple, routine and repetitive tasks. She should have only occasional interaction in person with the public, co-workers and supervisors.

(Tr. 2546).

         At Step Four, the ALJ found that plaintiff was unable to perform her past relevant work as a cafeteria worker, food service worker, or cook helper. (Tr. 2552). At Step Five, the ALJ found that plaintiff was capable of performing jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy, such as document preparer, addresser, and order clerk. (Tr. 2552-53).

         IV. GENERAL ...


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