Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Remelius v. Saul

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

August 30, 2019

THOMAS REMELIUS, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, [1] Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          AUDREY G. FLEISSIG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This action is before this Court for judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security finding that Plaintiff Thomas Remelius was not disabled, and thus not entitled to disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434, or supplemental security income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-1383f. For the reasons set forth below, the decision of the Commissioner will be reversed and the case remanded for further development of the record.

         BACKGROUND

         The Court adopts the statement of facts set forth in Plaintiff's Statement of Uncontroverted Facts (ECF No. 11-1), to the extent they are admitted by the Commissioner (ECF No. 18-1), and the Commissioner's Statement of Additional Facts (ECF No. 18-2), which Plaintiff has not refuted. Together, these statements provide a fair description of the record before the Court. Specific facts will be discussed as needed to address the parties' arguments.

         Plaintiff, who was born on July 17, 1961, filed his applications for benefits on January 6, 2015. He alleged disability beginning January 18, 2014, when he was 52 years old, due to chronic back pain, arthritis, and difficulty sleeping. On June 2, 2015, Plaintiff's applications were denied at the administrative level, and he thereafter requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”).

         Evidentiary Hearing

         A hearing was held on March 29, 2017, at which Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. Plaintiff testified that the highest grade he had completed in school was eighth grade. He testified that he had been employed as an over-the-road truck delivery driver, and previously as a tractor trailer driver, tow truck driver, and construction laborer, but that he stopped working as of his disability onset date, due to injuries suffered to his back after he fell on ice.

         At the hearing, the ALJ asked the VE about Plaintiff's past relevant work as a tow truck driver and tractor trailer truck driver. The VE testified that the tow truck driver position was classified in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (“DOT”)[2] as a medium, semiskilled job, with a [Specific Vocational Preparation (“SVP”)] ¶ 3; and the tractor trailer truck driver position was classified as a medium, semiskilled job with an SVP of 4. Tr. 55-56.

         The ALJ then engaged the VE in the following line of questioning with respect to Plaintiff's past work:

Q Given the claimant's age, education and past work, does the claimant possess any work skills provided at the sedentary exertional level that are transferrable?
A Driving skills. Driving skills are only transferrable to other driving jobs.
Q Okay.
A At the light level, not the sedentary level.
Q At the light level?
A Yes. Not at the sedentary. There are only two jobs that are sedentary that are driving. And, well, there are three, but one's an SVP 7 and that would be the only one that would be skilled and he would not be able to transfer his skills to that particular job. At the sedentary level.
Q Okay. So none at the sedentary level.

         The ALJ then engaged the VE in the following line of questioning with respect to Plaintiff's past work:

Q Given the claimant's age, education and past work, does the claimant possess any work skills provided at the sedentary exertional level that are transferrable?
A Driving skills. Driving skills are only transferrable to other driving jobs.
Q Okay.
A At the light level, not the sedentary level.
Q At the light level?
A Yes. Not at the sedentary. There are only two jobs that are sedentary that are driving. And, well, there are three, but one's an SVP 7 and that would be the only one that would be skilled and he would not be able to transfer his skills to that particular job. At the sedentary level.
Q Okay. So none at the sedentary level.
A No, sir.

Tr. 56.

         Next, the ALJ asked the VE questions regarding a hypothetical person with Plaintiff's vocational factors (age, education, work experience as described by the VE), who was limited as follows:

This individual can lift up to 25 pounds occasionally, lift/carry up to 10 pounds frequently. This individual can stand and walk for about six hours and sit for up to six hours in an eight hour work day with normal breaks. This individual can occasionally climb ramps or stairs. This individual can never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds. This individual can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel[, ] crouch, but never crawl. This individual should avoid unprotected heights and exposure to hazardous machinery.

Tr. 57.

         In response to the ALJ's questions, the VE testified that such a hypothetical person could not perform Plaintiff's past work. Tr. 57. But when asked whether the individual could perform other work in the national economy, the VE responded affirmatively, citing the jobs of (1) an escort vehicle driver, which the VE stated was classified as a light, unskilled job, with an SVP of 2; (2) a chauffeur, which the VE stated was classified as a light job, with an SVP of 3; and (3) the light, unskilled, non-driving jobs of order caller and mail sorter, both with an SVP of 2. Tr. 57-58.

         Plaintiff's attorney then questioned the VE as to Plaintiff's transferrable skills, as follows:

Q What is the differentiating factor between the unskilled type of driving jobs and something like the semiskilled driving jobs?
A I really don't know except that it takes longer learn those jobs. That's why the ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.