United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
an action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for judicial review
of the Commissioner of Social Security's final decision
denying the application of Dina Hill ("Hill") for
Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Title
XVI of the Social Security Act.
December 9, 2014, Hill filed an application for SSI, alleging
disability beginning on January 1, 2010. (Tr. 15, 166-71).
The claim was initially denied on February 26, 2015. (Tr. 15,
98, 101-07). Hill's request for a hearing was granted and
a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) was held
on February 17, 2017. The ALJ issued a written decision on
July 24, 2017, upholding the denial of benefits. (Tr. 12-26).
On April 27, 2018, the Appeals Council of the Social Security
Administration denied Hill's request for review of the
ALJ's decision (Tr. 1-6). The decision of the ALJ thus
stands as the final decision of the Commissioner. See
Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 107 (2000). Hill filed this
appeal on June 26, 2018. (ECF No. 1). On October 4, 2018,
Hill filed a Brief in Support of her Complaint. (ECF No. 13).
The Commissioner filed a Brief in Support of the Answer on
December 31, 2018. (ECF No. 18).
Decision of the ALJ
found that Hill had the following severe impairments: chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), obesity, and major
depression versus dysthymia. (Tr. 17). The ALJ, however,
determined that Hill did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the
severity of one of the listed impairments 20 CFR Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 18). The ALJ found that Hill had
the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform
a limited range of light work. Hill can lift and carry 20
pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. Hill can stand
and/or walk for a total of four hours in an eight-hour
workday and sit for a total of six hours in an eight-hour
workday. Hill can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds.
Hill can occasionally balance, kneel, crouch, crawl, stoop,
and climb ramps and stairs. Hill can have no concentrated
exposure to pulmonary irritants, defined as no work
environment where the ambient air temperature is 80 degrees
Fahrenheit or below. Hill is limited to simple, routine tasks
with occasional interaction with the general public,
co-workers, and supervisors. (Tr. 19-20). In sum, the ALJ
determined that Hill was not disabled. (Tr. 26).
following is a summary of relevant evidence before the ALJ.
testified on September 17, 2017, as follows:
was born in 1973. (Tr. 43). She dropped out of high school in
the 11th grade and obtained her GED. (Tr. 44). She
has been divorced since March of 2000. (Tr. 44). She has two
children who are 21 and 22. (Tr. 44). She lives with her
children and her ex-mother-in-law. (Tr. 44). Years ago, her
ex-husband and his mother had a guardianship over the
children due to some issues that Hill was addressing. (Tr.
44). Her ex-husband died in 2004. (Tr. 45). She has been on
Medicaid for several years. (Tr. 45). Her ex-mother-in law is
63. (Tr. 45).
does not have a driver's license due to a prior DWI. (Tr.
46). She has not worked at all since December 2014. (Tr. 47).
She previously worked for Gilster-Mary Lee as a packer and
stacker of cereal. (Tr. 47-48). After that, she worked for
Tri-State Water Treatment. She called people with surveys
about their water. Then, she worked in customer service for
Tri-State Water Treatment. (Tr. 48). Hill would sit for five
or six hours for her Tri-State position. (Tr. 49). She
believes she quit her position at Tri-State. (Tr. 50).
Thereafter, Hill folded laundry for Tipton Textile Linen
Service. (Tr. 49). She folded linens for eight-hours a day.
(Tr. 49). She stopped working at the linen service because it
was too hot, and it made her sick. (Tr. 49-50).
believes she is disabled because she lacks stamina. She needs
to sit down after doing housework because she loses her
breath very easily. (Tr. 51). Her shortness of breath is
caused by her COPD. (Tr. 52). She is stressed and worries a
lot. (Tr. 52). Dr. Robert McCool is her psychiatrist and Dr.
Gibson is her primary care doctor. (Tr. 52). Dr. McCool
diagnosed Hill with major depressive disorder. (Tr. 53). On
bad days, she spends the whole day in bed and only gets up to
do what she "absolutely ha[s] to do." (Tr. 54). She
does not shower or bathe on those days. (Tr. 55). She has bad
days a couple of days a week. (Tr. 55).
her boyfriend broke up this week. (Tr. 55-56). They met
through the Community Counseling Center, which has a day
treatment program for people with mental illness. (Tr. 56).
suffers from anxiety and panic attacks. (Tr. 58). On days
where she has a panic attack, she is terrified to go
anywhere. (Tr. 59).
McCool has Hill on medication and in talk therapy. (Tr. 60).
Although Dr. McCool makes frequent adjustments to Hill's