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Markley v. Saul

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

September 16, 2019

HOPE M. MARKLEY, 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 Hope M. Markley for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401, 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 Hope Markley was born on January 31, 1975, and filed her application for benefits on August 12, 2015.[2] (Tr. 94-95). She alleged a disability onset date of July 9, 2014, for IBS, fibromyalgia, headaches, insomnia, fatigue, depression, memory loss, possible Addison's disease, and double vision. (Tr. 94-95). Her application was denied initially by a disability examiner on November 5, 2015. (Tr. 109.) She appealed that decision and requested a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ").

         On June 27, 2017, plaintiff appeared and testified before an ALJ. (Tr. 53-93). A vocational expert also testified at the hearing. (Id.). On October 31, 2017, the ALJ denied plaintiff's application, deciding that plaintiff was not disabled. (Tr. 12-31). On July 9, 2018, the Appeals Council considered additional evidence from plaintiff but denied her request for review. (Tr. 1-4.) Thus, 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' statements of uncontroverted material facts (Docs. 18, 23.) 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 July 9, 2014, through the date she was last insured, September 30, 2017. (Tr. 17). At Step Two, the ALJ found that plaintiff had the following severe impairments:

irritable bowel syndrome (“IBS”), fibromyalgia/cutaneous lupus (also considered as sarcoidosis)/erythema ab igne (all appear to be part of the same condition, but given different diagnoses over the course of treatment), and mental impairments variously diagnosed as panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, depressive disorder not otherwise specified (“NOS”), major depressive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”).

(Tr. 17-18). At Step Three, the ALJ found that plaintiff had no impairment or combination of impairments that met or were the medical equivalent of an impairment on the Commissioner's list of presumptively disabling impairments. (Tr. 18-20); 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:

perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) except that the claimant can occasionally climb ladders, ropes, scaffolds, ramps, and stairs. She can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. She can have occasional exposure to unprotected heights and moving mechanical parts. She can occasionally operate a motor vehicle as a job duty. She can never be exposed to humidity and wetness, extreme cold, extreme heat, or vibration. She can have occasional exposure to dust, odors, fumes, and pulmonary irritants. The claimant is limited to performing simple and routine tasks, ...

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