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Fields v. Saul

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

November 12, 2019

ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security Administration Defendant.



         Plaintiff Keyanna Fields brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking judicial review of the Social Security Commissioner's (“Commissioner”) decision to deny her applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income. Because the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole, I affirm the decision.


         On March 11, 2016, the plaintiff filed a Title II application for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and a Title XVI application for supplemental security income (“SSI”). These claims were initially denied on May 19, 2016, and the plaintiff filed a written request for a hearing on June 1, 2016. The hearing was held on February 20, 2018. The ALJ issued her decision denying the Plaintiff's applications on June 1, 2018. The plaintiff timely appealed, and the Appeals Counsel affirmed the ALJ's opinion. The plaintiff then timely filed this case seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's decision.

         In this action for judicial review, Fields argues that the ALJ improperly excluded additional evidence provided on August 27, 2018 and that the ALJ's residual function capacity findings were not supported by substantial evidence.


         The plaintiff, Keyanna Fields, has suffered from seizures since a car accident in 2004. [Tr. 328]. Additionally, plaintiff Fields suffers from obstructive sleep apnea and obesity. [Tr. 396-97].

         At the hearing before the ALJ, Fields testified that she was 38 years old and lived with her two children. [Tr. 54, 60]. She also stated that here mother lived nearby to help her as necessary. [Tr. 70]. She also testified that she could cook, clean, and take care of herself and her children most days and that she only has difficulty when she has seizures [Tr. 70-72], which occur on average less than once a month. [Tr. 75].

         According to the record, the plaintiff has made frequent visits to her doctors through out the relevant time period, these visits were primarily focused on her seizure disorder. Her treatment for the seizure disorder involved the use of multiple high-risk medications. Although she was generally compliant with the doctors treatment program, she did fail to take her medications as prescribed on several occasions, which increased her risk of seizure. [Tr. 580]. She is also prohibited from driving because of her seizures and only drives occasionally to bring her son to the doctor or get groceries. [Tr. 55-60]. In addition to her treatment for the seizures, the plaintiff uses a CPAP machine to manage her obstructive sleep apnea, which she was diagnosed with on March 19, 2016 [Tr. 396-97].

         In addition to reviewing the transcript of the administrative proceedings and the medical records provided, I reviewed the statements of fact provided by the parties. The plaintiff did not provide any citations to the record in her statement of facts. ECF No. [6]. The Commissioner provided a more detailed recitation of the facts that cites to the administrative record. ECF No. [19-1]. Additionally, although the Commissioner's statement of facts contradicts a few of the assertions made in the plaintiff's statement of facts, it provides a fair and accurate description of the relevant record before me. Accordingly, I adopt the Commissioner's Statement of Material Facts ECF No. [19-1] as uncontroverted by Fields.


         The ALJ first found that Fields met the insured status requirements through December 31, 2017, and that the plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 24, 2014. The ALJ then determined that the plaintiff suffered the severe impairments of a seizure disorder, obesity, and obstructive sleep apnea, but that these impairments did not meet or medically equal the severity of one of the listed impairments in 10 CFR Part 404. Therefore, the ALJ had to determine the plaintiff's residual functional capacity (“RFC”) and ability to work.

         Based on her consideration of the record, the ALJ found that the plaintiff had a RFC to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR §§ 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) but with the following limitations: occasional climbing of ramps and stairs; no climbing of ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; occasional balancing; no work at unprotected heights; no work around moving mechanical parts or dangerous objects; no work around open fires; no work that requires swimming; never operating a motor vehicle; and never working in extreme cold or heat. Based on this RFC, the ALJ found that the Plaintiff could perform her past relevant work of being a companion, as well as other jobs existing in sufficient numbers in the national economy. Accordingly, the ALJ denied the plaintiff's applications because she found that she was not under a disability as defined in the Social Security Act.

         LEGAL ...

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