ST. LOUIS — A magistrate judge has affirmed the denial of disability benefits and supplemental Social Security income to a Missouri man who claimed he suffered from severe back problems, ruptured discs and nerve pain.
Ralph E. Scott's request for benefits was turned down upon his initial filing and then by an administrative law judge. U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia L. Cohen of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri agreed with those earlier decisions in an order issued June 20.
Scott, who was 32 when his case was before the administrative law judge May 5, 2014, indicated that he had a ninth-grade education and earned his GED diploma at age 17, according to background information in the ruling. At the time, he lived with his wife and four children.
His original injury occurred while working on a sawmill, for which Scott filed a workers' compensation claim, the ruling states.
He claimed he had outpatient epidural shots and underwent a percutaneous disectomy, or herniated disc surgery, in 2010.
When his case was before the administrative law judge, his most recent employment was as a cook and delivery driver at a pizza restaurant. But Scott claimed that he could not perform his job because he couldn't stand on his feet to cook, the ruling states. He claimed to have suffered severe pain in his right leg, had cramps in his left shoulder, and pain in his neck that was "pretty much a constant cramp."
He further testified that he was only able to lift 10 pounds and could only walk 20-30 minutes and stand or sit for 30-45 minutes. He indicated he typically alternated between sitting in a recliner, lying on the couch and walking around, as moving around was to get the pain to stop "until another one starts to aggravate."
The administrative law judge, in its five-step evaluation process, found that Scott was not disabled as defined by the Social Security Act, but it did find he had severe impairments related to his history of disc protrusion.
The administrative law judge found that Scott could perform light work.
"The (administrative law judge) found that Plaintiff was unable to perform his past relevant work but could perform other jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy," the ruling states.
Further, Cohen held that despite Scott introducing evidence that he was not able to care for his children and household, the record indicated he could do such activities.
"Plaintiff was able to shop for groceries, drive occasionally, prepare simple meals, and perform some household chores," she wrote. "While Plaintiff’s wife worked full time, Plaintiff stayed home with the couple’s four children under the age of twelve. The (administrative law judge) did not err in finding that Plaintiff’s ability to care for his children while his wife worked undermined his allegation of total disability."