United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
MAURICE B. COHILL, Jr., Senior District Judge.
Pending before this Court is an appeal from the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner" or "Defendant") denying the claims of Taylour Angerer ("Plaintiff" or "Claimant") for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act ("SSA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434 and 1381-1383f (2012). Plaintiff argues that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") was erroneous and that the Commissioner's decision was not supported by substantial evidence as required by 42 U.S.c. § 405(g).
To the contrary, Defendant argues that the ALJ properly evaluated the entire record and determined that despite numerous severe impairments, Plaintiff retained a Residual Functional Capacity ("RFC") to perform a wide range of sedentary work. [ECF No. 13 at 10]. Therefore, the ALJ's decision should be affirmed. The parties have filed cross motions for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
The Court has reviewed the record in its entirety and for the reasons stated below, we will deny the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and grant the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.
II. Procedural History
The Plaintiff filed applications for DIB and SSI on October 1, 2010 (R. at 153-68, 188) alleging disability since May 1, 2009, due to short bowel syndrome ("SBS"), anemia, vitamin B-12 deficiency, dysthymic disorder, and panic disorder (R. at 21; R. at 24). Plaintiff's claims were denied at the initial level of the administrative review process on March 29, 2011 (R. at 21). Plaintiff requested a hearing on April 12, 2011 (R. at 21). ALJ David F. Brash conducted a de novo video hearing on February 24, 2012 (R. at 21). Present at the hearing was Vocational Expert ("VE"), Fred A. Monaco (R. at 21). On March 2, 2012, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was not disabled under Section 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social Security Act (R. at 21-31). The ALJ stated, "After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a)." (R. at 27).
On April 24, 2012 Plaintiff filed a timely written request for review by the Appeals Council (R. at 16), which was denied on May 29, 2013 (R. at 1-5), making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Acting Commissioner. An appeal was subsequently filed by Plaintiff who seeks review of the ALJ's decision.
III. Medical History
Plaintiff was born 12 weeks premature and underwent bowel resection for necrotizing enterocolitis at 3 days of age, and bowel reanastomosis at age 6 months. She has had repeated hospitalizations for recurrent abdominal pain and obstructions. Her problems include dumping syndrome, anemia, vitamin deficiencies, and intolerance to certain foods. Her weight is 106 pounds and her height is 61 inches. (R. at 71-72).
Plaintiff was born on February 12, 1990. Plaintiff's initial surgeries took place at
Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh (R. at 253-55) four days after birth. On April 9, 1990 Plaintiff was transferred to St. Vincent Health Center for follow up care for post-surgical effects and prematurity (R. at 257-260). On June 4, 1990 Plaintiff returned to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh for the closure of Ileostomy (R. at 261).
From October 16-24, 1990 Plaintiff was admitted to the hospital for malabsorption (R. at 321).
On December 9, 1990 Plaintiff was seen at Saint Vincent Health Center for viral gastroenteritis (R. at 265). She had been vomiting and had diarrhea for four to five hours. She was admitted to the hospital for fluids and follow up care (R. at 267-68). She was discharged on December 12, 1990.
On December 17, 1990 Plaintiff was readmitted to Saint Vincent Health Center with vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration (R. at 309). She was discharged on December 27, 1990 to go to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh for evaluation of a possible milk allergy (R. at 311).
Plaintiff was admitted to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh from December 27, 1990 to January 6, 1991. She initially struggled with gaining weight but eventually began gaining again when baby foods were reinserted back into her diet (R. at 683-84). Plaintiff underwent many tests, none of which were conclusive for the cause of her vomiting and dehydration.
On January 11, 1991 Plaintiff was readmitted to Saint Vincent Health Center for vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration (R. at 387). X-rays were taken of her abdomen at this time.
The following impressions of the x-ray were reported by Dr. Floyd R. Hyatt:
Three is no free air within the peritoneal cavity. There is moderate gaseous dilatation of right colon and portions of the transverse colon. Note is made of some apparent free intramural air within the right colon wall laterally and about the region of the colon in the pelvis. This is compatible with pneumatosis intestinalis. This could be idiopathic. Possibility of an enterocolitis is certainly a consideration and clinical correlation is recommended. (R. at 470).
Plaintiffs abdomen was x-rayed on a regular basis to diagnose abnormalities. Plaintiff was diagnosed with pheumatosis which resolved (R. at 474). Hospital staff was unable to insert an IV for fluids so a "cut down" had to be performed. Plaintiff stayed in the hospital for an extended stay to attempt to increase her caloric intake, improve her diaper dermatitis, and monitor her bowel movements (R. at 381-474). A consistent note in her record was "Failure to Thrive." On the twenty-fifth day, Plaintiff was discharged from the hospital (R. at 477). Upon discharge it was recommended that Plaintiff have her carbon dioxide levels checked (R. at 479).
April 28, 1991 Plaintiff was admitted to Saint Vincent Health Center for vomiting and mild dehydration. Abdominal x-ray showed multiple dilated loops of bowel (R. at 486). She had a diagnosis of ileus and an NO tube was placed for suction and she was kept NPO and given IV hydration. She had two loose stools and discharged the next day (R.at. 482).
Plaintiff was hospitalized from May 6, to May 13, 1991 at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. In a report to Saint Vincent Health Center, Dr. Samuel Kocoshis reported that Plaintiff is experiencing growth failure but that testing revealed no unusual findings. He did diagnose an allergy to cow's milk protein but found Plaintiff tolerated all other foods. He did not note any malabsorption issues but rather noted that follow up should be cognizant of the possibility of an intermittent distal small bowel obstruction which can be attributable to adhesions and such entities as internal herniae (R. at 682).
On May 27, 1991 Plaintiff was once again admitted to the hospital with vomiting 9-10 times in two hours. Plaintiff having been diagnosed with a milk allergy had not had any milk but had tried an egg yolk for the first time (R. at 505). Discharge from the hospital was on June 3, 1991 (R. at 505) with a diagnosis of (1) Acute egg allergy; (2) enteritis; (3) milk allergy; and (4) short bowel syndrome (R. 507). At the hospital a barium contrast was taken. A large amount of barium was placed in the stomach and passed rapidly into the small bowel without evidence of pylorospasm. The mucosal folds in the duodenum and proximal ileum are thickened suggesting the possibility of a malabsorption process or possibility of cystic fibrosis. Distal small bowel loops are dilated but transit time through the bowel to the colon is within the range of normal and no functionally significant stricture is identified. The vast majority of the barium is identified within the colon within 6 hours following the study and the majority of the barium is seen in the colon 2 hours following the study (R. at 533).
On June 18, 1991 Plaintiff's mother brought her to Saint Vincent's Health Center because Plaintiff only had one bowel movement and said she felt like she needed to go but couldn't. An x-ray revealed negative results and Plaintiff was discharged with directions to push fluids (R. at 593-94).
On October 13, 1991 Plaintiff was seen at Saint Vincent's Health Center for bilateral ear pain, mild gastroenteritis and dermatitis of the scalp. Plaintiff was told to drink clear fluids and provided with ...