United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
NANNETTE A. BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Kristy Parrinello's appeal
regarding the denial of disability insurance benefits and
supplemental security income under the Social Security Act.
The Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this
action under 42 U.SC. § 405(g). The parties have
consented to the exercise of authority by the undersigned
United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(c). [Doc. 8.] The Court has reviewed the parties'
briefs and the entire administrative record, including the
transcript and medical evidence. Based on the following, the
Court will affirm the Commissioner's decision.
presents three alleged errors for review. She asserts that
the ALJ erred by failing to find that her carpal tunnel
syndrome and mental impairments were severe impairments. She
also asserts that the ALJ improperly discounted her
credibility specifically regarding her activities of daily
living. Finally, she states that the hypothetical to the
vocational expert was not proper, because the RFC was not
supported by substantial evidence and did not include all of
her impairments. The Commissioner contends that the ALJ's
decision is supported by substantial evidence in the record
as a whole and should be affirmed.
Social Security Act defines disability as an “inability
to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of
any medically determinable physical or mental impairment
which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can
be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than
12 months.” 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i)(1)(A),
standard of review is narrow. Pearsall v. Massanari,
274 F.3d 1211, 1217 (8th Cir. 2001). This Court reviews the
decision of the ALJ to determine whether the decision is
supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Substantial evidence is less than a
preponderance, but enough that a reasonable mind would find
adequate support for the ALJ's decision. Smith v.
Shalala, 31 F.3d 715, 717 (8th Cir. 1994). The Court
determines whether evidence is substantial by considering
evidence that detracts from the Commissioner's decision
as well as evidence that supports it. Cox v.
Barnhart, 471 F.3d 902, 906 (8th Cir. 2006). The Court
may not reverse just because substantial evidence exists that
would support a contrary outcome or because the Court would
have decided the case differently. Id. If, after
reviewing the record as a whole, the Court finds it possible
to draw two inconsistent positions from the evidence and one
of those positions represents the Commissioner's finding,
the Commissioner's decision must be affirmed.
Masterson v. Barnhart, 363 F.3d 731, 736 (8th Cir.
2004). The Court must affirm the Commissioner's decision
so long as it conforms to the law and is supported by
substantial evidence on the record as a whole. Collins ex
rel. Williams v. Barnhart, 335 F.3d 726, 729 (8th Cir.
Parrinello asserts that the ALJ failed to find that her
carpal tunnel syndrome and her mental impairments of major
depressive disorder, anxiety, and bipolar disorder were
severe impairments. After the ALJ has determined that a
claimant is not engaged in substantial gainful activity, the
ALJ then determines whether the claimant has a severe
impairment or combination of impairments that has or is
expected to last twelve months or will result in death. 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1509, 404.1520(a)(4)(i)-(ii),
416.909, 416.920(a)(4)(i)-(ii). A physical or mental impairment
must be established by medical evidence consisting of signs,
symptoms, and laboratory findings, not only by the
claimant's statement of symptoms. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1508, 416.908. To be considered severe, an impairment
must significantly limit a claimant's ability to
do basic work activities. See 20 C.F.R §§
404.1520(c), 416.920(c). “Step two [of the five-step]
evaluation states that a claimant is not disabled if his
impairments are not severe.” Kirby v. Astrue,
500 F.3d 705, 707 (8th Cir. 2007) (citing Simmons v.
Massanari, 264 F.3d 751, 754 (8th Cir. 2001)). “An
impairment is not severe if it amounts only to a slight
abnormality that would not significantly limit the
claimant's physical or mental ability to do basic work
activities.” Id. at 707. “If the
impairment would have no more than a minimal effect on the
claimant's ability to work, then it does not satisfy the
requirement of step two.” Id. (citing Page
v. Astrue, 484 F.3d 1040, 1043 (8th Cir. 2007)).
“It is the claimant's burden to establish that his
impairment or combination of impairments are severe.
Kirby, 500 F.3d at 707 (citing Mittlestedt v.
Apfel, 204 F.3d 847, 852 (8th Cir. 2000)).
“Severity is not an onerous requirement for the
claimant to meet, . . . but it is also not a toothless
standard.” Kirby, 500 F.3d at 708.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
found that Parrinello had the severe impairments of
fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, sacroiliitis, and
tendinitis of the left shoulder. The ALJ found that
Parrinello's carpal tunnel syndrome was mild and not a
severe impairment. (Tr. 13.) In support, the ALJ stated that
in June 2014, she did not display any motor weakness,
neurologic abnormalities, or any evidence to show erosion in
an x-ray, and had only mild findings in electrodiagnostic
testing. (Tr. 12-13.) The ALJ noted that she had a normal
bilateral hands X-ray in 2014. (Tr. 352-56.) A nerve
conduction study in 2016 indicated mild carpal tunnel
syndrome in her right arm at the elbow. (Tr. 466-68.)
application identified arthritis and difficulty using hands
due to joint pain in her application. (Tr. 180.) Parrinello
wrote in her Function Report that she had trouble raising her
arms above her head and it hurt to use her hand, including
when stirring and chopping. (Tr. 204-205, 208.) During her
testimony, she testified that she had carpal tunnel syndrome
and could not feel her fingertips during her 2013 pregnancy.
(Tr. 37.) She also testified that her hands and wrists hurt
too bad to wash her hair and she could only wash 1 or 2
dishes before her wrists and hands were hurting. (Tr. 42.)
Finally, she testified that she had pain throughout her body,
including her elbows, wrists, and hands. (Tr. 47.)
careful review of the record, the Court finds that the
ALJ's finding that Parrinello's carpal tunnel
syndrome was not a severe impairment is supported by
substantial evidence in the record as a whole. First, a
diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome does not always require
manipulative limitations to be included in an RFC
determination. See Cypress v. Colvin, 807 F.3d 948,
951 (8th Cir. 2015) (ALJ did not have to include manipulative
limitations in RFC determination where claimant was diagnosed
with moderate to severe bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome,
because claimant retained full range of motion and full
muscle strength). The record contains no medical evidence
that Parrinello's carpal tunnel syndrome more than
minimally impacted her ability to perform basic work
activities. Halton v. Astrue, 689 F.Supp.2d 1148,
1167-68 (E.D. Mo. March 15, 2010). The medical record
indicated that Parrinello had full muscle strength and normal
range of motion of her upper ...