Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Glissen v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division

February 22, 2017




         Plaintiff Alisha Joy Glissen has applied for judicial review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) of the Commissioner of Social Security's decision denying her application for disability insurance benefits (DIB) under Title III of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i), 423. Docket 1. Plaintiff filed an application for benefits on August 10, 2012, alleging disability beginning on July 20, 2012. Docket 7 at 164-65.

         The agency administratively denied Plaintiff's claim initially on October 24, 2012 and on reconsideration on December 18, 2012. Id. at 111-13, 116-17. Plaintiff then requested an administrative hearing, which Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Rebecca Sartor held on June 11, 2014. Id. at 119-20, 125-27. The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on August 25, 2014. Id. at 39-49. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on April 11, 2016. Id. at 1-4. Plaintiff timely filed this appeal from the April 11, 2016 decision, the undersigned held a hearing on January 19, 2017, and it is now ripe for review.

         Because both parties have consented to a magistrate judge conducting all the proceedings in this case as provided in 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the undersigned has the authority to issue this opinion and the accompanying Final Judgment. Docket 10.

         I. FACTS

         Plaintiff was born on November 25, 1980, and was 33 at the time of the ALJ hearing. Docket 7 at 164. Plaintiff contends she became disabled as a result of lupus and that she additionally suffers from Raynaud's syndrome, hyperthyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, acid reflux, photosensitive dermatitis, and bad nerves. Id. at 62, 64, 68-70, 77-82. Specifically, Plaintiff asserts that she qualifies for disability under either part of the Listing for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), Section 14.02. Id. at 62.

         At the ALJ hearing, Plaintiff provided testimony about each of the following medical conditions from which she claims to suffer: arthritis (Id. at 64-67); Reynaud's syndrome (Id. at 79); hypothyroidism (Id. at 68); anxiety/nervousness (Id. at 68-69, 80-81); rash (Id. at 70, 76-78); lupus (Id. at 62-63, 80-81, 83-84); and acid reflux (Id. at 81-82). Plaintiff testified that she experiences knots and swelling in her hands and feet and swelling in her ankles and knees making it difficult to walk and preventing her from bending over or stopping down. Id. at 64-67. According to Plaintiff, it is “hard to just function on [her] own.” Id. at 64. at 64-65. She stated that her hands and feet swell daily; her knees swell three to four times a week; her ankles swell almost daily; she feels nauseous almost every day; and she experiences a “bad” outbreak of these symptoms three to four times a week. Id. at 66.

         Plaintiff testified that sunlight and heat aggravate her skin causing a burning and itching rash to appear on her arms, with knots on her hands and bumps on the back of her legs and bottom. Id. at 70, 76-78. These knots bleed easily and the blood does not clot well. Id. at 76. She testified that Reynaud's syndrome causes a loss of sensation and change in color in her hands in cold weather, and further causes numbness and tingling in her hands and wrists. Id. at 79. Her hypothyroidism and lupus cause constant fatigue; the lupus continually flares up and Plaintiff's only reprieve comes with temporary relaxations of the flare. Id. at 68, 80, 83. Plaintiff stated that the lupus medication controls her platelet levels but that she still experiences the other symptoms. Id. at 84. Plaintiff testified that she experiences acid reflux around eight times a month with each episode lasting around a day-and-a-half during which she experiences nausea and throwing up. Id. at 81-82.

         The ALJ established that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 20, 2012, the alleged onset date. Id. at 41. Next, the ALJ found that Plaintiff experienced the severe impairments of systemic lupus erythematosus, Raynaud's disease, thyroid disorder, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), and anxiety, but that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or medically equal a listed impairment in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (404.1520(d), 404.1525, and 404.1526). Id. at 41-43. Specifically, the ALJ discussed how each of Plaintiff's severe impairments do not meet or medically equal the listing criteria for lupus, thyroid disorder, GERD, or anxiety. Id. at 41-42.

         Considering Plaintiff's severe impairments, ALJ found that Plaintiff's demonstrated abilities were consistent with a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to perform sedentary work. Id. at 43. The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff could “occasionally climb ramps and stairs; occasionally balance, stoop, crouch, kneel and crawl; [could not] climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds; and should avoid even moderate exposure to hazards, such as unprotected heights, moving machinery and automotive equipment.” Id. at 43. The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff “should avoid moderate exposure to temperature extremes, humidity and vibration” and could “occasionally interact with coworkers” but could have “no interaction with the public.” Id.

         Based on a review of the record in conjunction with Plaintiff's allegations, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff's “allegations are disproportionate to the objective medical evidence.” Id. at 46. The ALJ found that Plaintiff's “medically determinable impairments could reasonably be expected to cause the alleged symptoms; however [her] statements concerning the intensity, persistence and limiting effects of these symptoms are not entirely credible.” Id. at 44.

         The ALJ determined that Plaintiff's residual functional capacity precludes her ability to perform past relevant work, and her ability to perform the full range of sedentary work is impeded by additional limitations. Id. at 49. Having questioned the vocational expert (VE) regarding whether jobs existed in the national economy for an individual of the Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, the ALJ noted the VE's testimony that given those factors, Plaintiff could perform the requirements of occupations such as surveillance system monitor, eye glass inserter, and assembler. Id. The ALJ ultimately ruled that Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from July 20, 2012, through August 25, 2014, the date of the ALJ's decision. Id.

         Plaintiff claims that the ALJ failed to properly consider all the record evidence in determining that she did not meet the requirement for Listing 14.02 and that the Appeals Counsel failed to properly consider medical evidence submitted after the hearing date. Docket 13 at 3.


         In determining disability, the Commissioner, through the ALJ, works through a five-step sequential evaluation process.[1] The burden rests upon the plaintiff throughout the first four steps of this five-step process to prove disability, and if the plaintiff is successful in sustaining her burden at each of the first four levels, then the burden shifts to the Commissioner at step five.[2]First, the plaintiff must prove she is not currently engaged in substantial gainful activity.[3]Second, the plaintiff must prove her impairment is “severe” in that it “significantly limits [her] physical or mental ability to do basic work activities . . . .”[4] At step three the ALJ must conclude that plaintiff is disabled if she proves that her impairments meet or are medically equivalent to one of the impairments listed at 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, App. 1, §§ 1.00-114.09 (2010).[5]If the plaintiff does not meet this burden, at step four she must prove that she is incapable of meeting the physical and mental demands of her past relevant work.[6] At step five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to prove, considering the plaintiff's residual functional capacity, age, education and past work experience, that she is capable of performing other work.[7] If the Commissioner proves other work exists which the plaintiff can perform, plaintiff is given the chance to prove that she cannot, in fact, perform that work.[8]


         Judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision to deny benefits is limited to determining whether the decision is supported by substantial evidence and whether the Commissioner applied the correct legal standard. Crowley v. Apfel,197 F.3d 194, 196 (5th Cir. 1999), citing Austin v. Shalala, 994 F.2d 1170 (5th Cir. 1993); Villa v. Sullivan, 895 F.2d 1019, 1021 (5th Cir. 1990). The court has the responsibility to scrutinize the entire record to determine whether the ALJ's decision was supported by substantial evidence and whether the proper legal standards were applied in reviewing the claim. Ransom v. Heckler, 715 F.2d 989, 992 (5th Cir. 1983). A court has limited power of ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.