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Grable v. Colvin

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

November 6, 2014

Penny Sue Grable, Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant - Appellee

Submitted September 11, 2014

Page 1197

Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri - St. Joseph.

For Penny Sue Grable, Plaintiff - Appellant: Jon R. Dedon, Polsinelli, PC, Kansas City, MO.

For Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant - Appellee: Jeremiah Hayes, Assistant Regional Counsel, Kristi Schmidt, Deputy Chief Counsel, Social Security Administration Office of General Counsel Region VII, Kansas City, MO; Jeffrey P. Ray, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Kansas City, MO.

Before WOLLMAN, LOKEN, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 1198

MURPHY, Circuit Judge.

Penny Sue Grable applied for disability insurance benefits, asserting that she had difficulty breathing and painful joints. An administrative law judge (ALJ) denied her application, and the Appeals Council denied review. Grable appealed to the district court[1] which remanded the case. On remand, the Appeals Council directed the ALJ to review Grable's claim with the subsequent application she had filed for disability insurance benefits during the pendency of the appeal. In the insurance application Grable alleged that she was disabled due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart problems, fibromyalgia, chronic pain syndrome, and swelling in her legs and feet. The ALJ denied her consolidated application, and the Appeals Council denied review. Grable appealed the commissioner's final decision to the district court which affirmed the denial of benefits. Grable now appeals to this court. We affirm.

Page 1199

Grable applied for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act in November 2005. She was 44 years old at the time and alleged that she had been disabled since July 30, 2004 due to breathing problems and painful joints. Her application reported that she had worked as a secretary, ticketing agent, and file clerk. She had been laid off from her most recent job as a title searcher and had collected unemployment benefits from August to November 2004.

Prior to her alleged onset date, Grable consulted her family physician, Dr. Chris Sandberg, M.D., who diagnosed her with chest wall pain, dyspnea, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Grable continued to see Dr. Sandberg throughout the relevant time period. Following his initial diagnosis, Dr. Sandberg concluded in May 2007 that Grable suffered from allergic rhinitis and fibromyalgia as well. He stated that Grable could not sit or stand for lengthy periods, and that she suffered from muscle cramps and blurred vision. A few months later, Dr. Sandberg examined Grable again and diagnosed her with hypertension, asthma, bursitis of the hip, and fibromyalgia. In October 2007, he diagnosed Grable with anxiety disorder as well.

Grable also consulted with rheumatologist Dr. Arnold Katz, M.D., who found that Grable did not " have the more limited and localized tenderness that [one] would expect to find with fibromyalgia." Rather, her symptoms were more consistent with chronic pain syndrome because she displayed diffuse tenderness all over her body. Dr. Katz examined Grable throughout the relevant time period and consistently diagnosed her with chronic pain syndrome, not fibromyalgia.

On September 5, 2008 the ALJ issued a decision finding Grable not disabled. The ALJ concluded that even if Grable suffered from fibromyalgia, she was able to perform past relevant work as a ticketing agent and title searcher. The Appeals Council denied review, and Grable appealed to the district court. At the same time Grable filed another application for disability insurance benefits, alleging that she had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart problems, fibromyalgia, chronic pain syndrome, and swelling in her legs and feet. The district court remanded the case, and the Appeals Council directed the ALJ to review Grable's second application with ...


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