United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
SANDRA D. LEONARD, Plaintiff,
ANDREW M. SAUL, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. ROSS, 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 Sandra D. Leonard’s application for disability
insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act,
42 U.S.C. §§ 401, et seq.
February 9, 2016, Leonard protectively filed an application
for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401, et
seq., alleging disability beginning January 22, 2016,
due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
(“COPD”), past leg fracture, gastrointestinal
trouble, type 2 diabetes, and carpal tunnel syndrome in both
wrists. (Tr. 145-148, 172.) Leonard’s application was
denied on March 31, 2016. (Tr. 13.) Leonard requested and was
granted a hearing before an administrative law judge
(“ALJ”), which took place on October 24, 2017.
(Id.) Leonard was represented by non-attorney
representative Tiffany Beardslee. (Id.)
hearing, the ALJ heard evidence from both Leonard and an
impartial vocational expert. (Id.) Leonard testified
that, in addition to the disabilities she listed on her
application, she also suffered from debilitating back pain
caused by degenerative disk disease. (Doc. 11 at 2-5.)
Leonard testified that she experienced daily pain rated as a
nine out of ten. (Tr. 41.) The record contained a 2015 MRI
that indicated “some disc bulges and arthritis”
in Leonard’s lower back and she further testified that
over-the-counter treatments, chiropractic services, and
physical therapy had not brought relief. (Tr. 41-42.)
Beardslee was questioning Leonard about her back pain, the
ALJ: Hold on. Ms. Beardlsee, I’m looking at the filing,
nothing about the back. I looked in the record, I
didn’t see anything about the back. Is there a back
impairment here, and if so, where in the record do we have a
diagnosis of some kind of a back [impairment]? I don’t
see an X-ray. Did I miss it?
REP: Exhibit 4F, page 199, there’s a lumbar spine MRI.
. . .
ALJ: Okay, but was there a-it says mild degenerative disc
disease- REP: And the disc bulges. ALJ: Right, but was there
. . .
REP: I’m looking-it says-it has history was low back
pain and bilateral lower extremity pain with a history of
fall in March 2015.
ALJ: Right. But this, this MRI was taken in June of 2015,
about six months before she stopped working . . . . She just
testified her pain is a level nine, nine and a half . . . . I
don’t know how we can have that level pain and work for
six months. . . . [A]nd then when she ...