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Filmore v. Saul

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

September 20, 2019

EMILY A. FILMORE, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL,[1] Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          ABBIE CRITES-LEONI, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Emily Filmore brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of the Social Security Administration Commissioner’s denial of her application for Disability Insurance Benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act.

         An Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found that, despite Filmore’s severe impairments, she was not disabled as she had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform work existing in significant numbers in the national economy.

         This matter is pending before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge, with consent of the parties, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). A summary of the entire record is presented in the parties’ briefs and is repeated here only to the extent necessary.

         For the following reasons, the decision of the Commissioner will be reversed and remanded.

         I. Procedural History

         Filmore filed her application for benefits on August 1, 2015, claiming that she became unable to work on January 1, 2007. (Tr. 165.) In her Disability Report, Filmore alleged disability due to dermatomyositis, [2] fibromyalgia, chronic migraines, vitamin D deficiency, chronic shingles, repeated retina detachments, macular puckers, other eye problems, irritable bowel syndrome, neck pain and weakness, and autoimmune diseases. (Tr. 207.) Filmore was 30 years of age at her alleged onset of disability. (Tr. 17.) Her application was denied initially. (Tr. 89.) Filmore’s claim was denied by an ALJ on January 18, 2018. (Tr. 10-19.) On July 26, 2018, the Appeals Council denied Filmore’s claim for review. (Tr. 1-4.) Thus, the decision of the ALJ stands as the final decision of the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481.

         In this action, Filmore raises the following claims: (1) “The ALJ erred in finding Filmore had an unrestricted capacity to maintain a full-time work schedule without excessive absences, and failed to articulate analysis despite the issue being central to Filmore’s claim, ” and (2) “The ALJ erred in rejecting the treating physician opinion on grounds that applied only to one aspect of it, failing to apply the regulatory factors used when weighing such evidence.” (Doc. 8 at pp. 7, 11.)

         II. The ALJ’s Determination

         The ALJ first found that Filmore last met the insured status requirements of the Act on December 31, 2010. (Tr. 12.) He next found that Filmore did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged onset date of January 1, 2007, through her date last insured of December 31, 2010. Id. The ALJ concluded that, through her date last insured, Filmore had the following severe impairment: dermatomyositis. Id. The ALJ found that Filmore did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments. Id.

         As to Filmore’s RFC, the ALJ stated:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that, through the date last insured, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) except she could only occasionally climb ramps and stairs. She could never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She could never work at unprotected, dangerous heights or around unprotected, dangerous machinery. She could not ambulate on unimproved terrain. She could not tolerate exposure to whole body vibration. She could only occasionally use her legs to operate foot controls. She could occasionally stoop kneel, crouch, and crawl. She needed to avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold and heat. She could perform simple, repetitive tasks.

(Tr. 13.)

         The ALJ found that Filmore was unable to perform any past relevant work through the date last insured, but was capable of performing other jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy, such as document preparer, gager, and surveillance system monitor. (Tr. 17-18.) The ALJ therefore concluded that Filmore was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, at any time from January 1, 2007, the alleged onset date, through December 31, 2010, the date last insured. (Tr. 19.)

         The ALJ’s final decision reads as follows:

Based on the application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits protectively filed on August 1, 2015, the claimant was not disabled under sections 216(i) and 223(d) of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2010, the last date insured.

Id.

         III. Applicable Law

         III. A. Standard of Review

         The decision of the Commissioner must be affirmed if it is supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Estes v. Barnhart, 275 F.3d 722, 724 (8th Cir. 2002). Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance of the evidence, but enough that a reasonable person would find it adequate to support the conclusion. Johnson v. Apfel, 240 F.3d 1145, 1147 (8th Cir. 2001). This “substantial evidence test, ” however, is “more than a mere search of the record for evidence supporting the Commissioner’s findings.” Coleman v. Astrue, 498 F.3d 767, 770 (8th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). “Substantial evidence on the record as a whole . . . requires a more scrutinizing analysis.” Id. (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

         To determine whether the Commissioner’s decision is supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole, the Court must review ...


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