United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MICHELLE L. THOMPSON, Plaintiff,
ANDREW M. SAUL,  Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant. August 2014 to November 2014 (3 months) December 2015 to March 2016 (3 months)
D. Noce, J.
action is before the Court for judicial review of the final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security finding that
plaintiff Michelle Thompson is not disabled and, thus, not
entitled to Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”)
under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 401-33. 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.
was born on February 28, 1971. (Tr. 127). She filed her
application for DIB on January 15, 2015, alleging an onset
date of June 18, 2014. (Tr. 127). In her application,
plaintiff claimed that she suffers numbness in her hands and
feet, numbness in her stomach, weakness on the left side of
her body, diabetes, and blood pressure issues. (Tr. 150). Her
date last insured was December 31, 2018. (Tr. 147). On March
3, 2015, plaintiff's application was denied, and she
requested a hearing before an administrative law judge
(“ALJ”). (Tr. 65, 71). Plaintiff and a vocational
expert (“VE”) testified at the hearing on January
24, 2017. (Tr. 35-51). By decision dated April 5, 2017, the
ALJ found that plaintiff was not disabled under the Social
Security Act. (Tr. 15-23). The ALJ determined that plaintiff
retained the residual functional capacity (“RFC”)
to perform her past relevant work. Id.
January 25, 2018, the Appeals Council of the Social Security
Administration denied plaintiff's request for review of
the ALJ's decision, making the ALJ's decision the
final decision of the Commissioner to be reviewed in this
case. (Tr. 1-5). Plaintiff argues that the ALJ's decision
is not supported by substantial evidence. Specifically, she
asserts that the ALJ erred in failing to consider or
improperly analyzing plaintiff's ability to regularly
attend a workplace. (Doc. 17). Plaintiff asks that the
ALJ's decision be reversed and remanded for further
Medical Record and Evidentiary Hearing
Court adopts plaintiff's Statement of Material Facts
(Doc. 17, Ex. 1) as clarified by defendant's response
(Doc. 22, Ex. 1) in addition to defendant's Statement of
Additional Facts (Doc. 22, Ex. 2), as clarified by
plaintiff's response (Doc. 23, Ex. 1). Together, these
facts represent a fair and accurate summary of the medical
record and testimony as given at the evidentiary hearing. The
court will discuss relevant facts as necessary to address the
One, the ALJ found that plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since her alleged onset date,
June 18, 2014. (Tr. 17). She also found that plaintiff
suffers from the severe impairments of diabetes mellitus with
neuropathy and gastroparesis, hypertension, obesity, coronary
artery disease, and history of cerebrovascular accident. (Tr.
17). However, the ALJ concluded that none of these
impairments, individually or in combination, met or equaled
an impairment listed in the Commissioner's regulations.
determined that plaintiff's impairments left her with the
RFC to “perform a range of sedentary work as defined in
20 C.F.R. 404.1567(a)”:
She is able to lift, carry, push, or pull 10 pounds
occasionally and less than 10 pounds frequently; sit for 6
hours in an 8-hour workday; and stand or walk for 2 hours in
an 8-hour workday, but for no more than 30 minutes at a time.
She can never climb ropes, ladders, or scaffolds, but
occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel
crouch, and crawl. She must have no exposure to extreme heat,
extreme cold, humidity, wetness, vibration, unprotected
heights, hazardous machinery, dust, fumes, odors, gases, and
(Tr. 18). In making this determination, the ALJ considered
the objective medical evidence in the record, opinion
evidence, and plaintiff's allegations and testimony. (Tr.
found that plaintiff had some medical problems, but none that
caused her to be completely disabled. She noted plaintiff had
severe diabetic gastroparesis in August 2014, November 2014,
late 2015, and early 2016, but that she was stable between
those hospitalizations and had not had a hospitalization
between March 2016 and April 2017. The ALJ further noted that
when plaintiff is compliant with her diabetes treatment plan,
hospitalizations should not be necessary, and that even with
her historical hospitalizations, she would not have missed
two or more days a month due to the gastroparesis.
Additionally, the ALJ found that there was no objective
medical evidence in the record that she had experienced a
stroke, other than plaintiff's report of that in her
history. The ALJ noted that there was little other evidence
in the record to support any weakness in her left side and
that, on the contrary, she could perform sedentary work after
her alleged stroke. However, the ALJ found that
plaintiff's obesity and diabetic neuropathy do affect her
lower extremities and limit her ability to do sedentary work,
though she retains the use of her hands.
terms of opinion evidence, the ALJ discounted the opinion of
plaintiff's primary care doctor, Edwin Schmidt, M.D. Dr.
Schmidt opined that plaintiff would miss work more than three
times a month because of her gastroparesis. However, the ALJ
found this opinion was not supported by Dr. Schmidt's own
records, nor the record as a whole. Based on the testimony of
a VE, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff could perform her past
relevant work of an insurance clerk or hospital admitting
clerk. (Tr. 17-23).