United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division
ORDER AND MEMORANDUM DECISION
CAMPBELL, U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Tiffany Johnson-Stott appeals the Acting Commissioner of
Social Security's denial of her application for
disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social
Security Act. Ms. Johnson-Stott claimed that she was disabled
as a consequence of a number of physical and mental maladies.
An administrative law judge (ALJ) determined that she
suffered from severe medically determinable impairments, but
nonetheless retained the capacity to perform light work with
some limitations and so denied her application. For the
reasons set forth below, the court affirms the
for Disability Insurance Benefits
Johnson-Stott filed an application for disability insurance
benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, claiming
that she was disabled from August 30, 2010, to September 30,
2013, her date last insured. According to her application,
she was unable to work as a consequence of post-traumatic
stress disorder, anxiety, insomnia, lipoma tumors,
fibromyalgia, cervicalgia, chronic back pain, neoplasms of
the skin, and pain and tingling in her arms and hands.
Johnson-Stott's medical records from 2010 to 2013 reflect
treatment for each of these conditions. She repeatedly
visited her primary care physician, Dr. Ronald Lee, to treat
anxiety, neck and back pain, and insomnia. She also visited
pain specialists and underwent physical therapy to treat pain
in her neck, back, wrists, feet, and ears. In August of 2013,
she underwent an MRI, which revealed a “small disc
osteophyte” in her neck and “mild degenerative
changes of the lumbar spine” in her lower back.
(Administrative Transcript (“R.”) 347, 349.)
Johnson-Stott also underwent a number of medical procedures
during this time. She gave birth by caesarian section in June
of 2013, and, the next month, underwent surgery to remove
tumors known as lipomas from her body.
initial application for benefits, Ms. Johnson-Stott described
“overall pain through out my arms, back, neck, knees,
hand, legs, and feet, ” which “make[s] it
impossible to lean over people for any amount of time let
alone all day preforming [sic] massage therapy.” (R.
166.) She also reported pain performing household chores such
as cleaning dishes, picking up her children's toys,
sweeping and cleaning, and doing laundry. She stated that
“[j]ust to walk I have to hold on to items or my
husband to walk around the house or to even use the restroom
I have to have him help set me down on the toilet.” (R.
167.) Psychologically, she reported debilitating anxiety and
panic attacks, and feelings of claustrophobia.
state examiners, Dr. Kimberlee Terry and Dr. Louis Huebner,
reviewed Ms. Johnson-Stott's initial application. Dr.
Terry found that Ms. Johnson-Stott's “reported
limits are significantly out of proportion to the [objective]
exams.” (R. 66.) Dr. Huebner conducted a vocational
assessment and concluded that
[t]here was sufficient enough evidence . . . to determine
that you were capable of performing light duty work from a
physical standpoint, as found in the national economy. There
was not enough evidence to show you were completely disabled
psychologically and therefore your claim for disability under
Title II benefits is denied.
an initial denial, the Social Security Administration
reviewed her application again on reconsideration. Dr. Dennis
Taggart, another state agency examiner, concluded that
[r]eview of the medical evidence indicates the previous
decision [denial] was made appropriately. The medical
evidence available for review from 08/30/2010, your alleged
onset date, to 09/30/2013, the date you were last insured for
disability benefits; was insufficient to support any totally
disabling condition. No. additional medical evidence was
received for review from 08/30/2010 through 9/30/2013 to
indicate your condition was worse during that time, therefore
you [sic] claim is denied.
Johnson-Stott's Appeal before the ALJ
denial on reconsideration, Ms. Johnson-Stott requested and
received a hearing before an ALJ. The hearing took place in
February of 2016.
record before the ALJ consisted of Ms. Johnson-Stott's
medical records and statements from her treating physicians
and her husband. Dr. Lee submitted a letter dated June 11,
2015, which stated that Ms. Johnson-Stott “has been
seen and treated here for Anxiety, Panic Attacks and PTSD.
Tiffany is very limited towards driving and working and
doesn't feel comfortable leaving her home unless it is
for doctors [sic] appointments or emergencies because being
around people triggers the Panic Attacks.” (R. 502.)
William Hough, another treating physician, submitted a letter
dated June 16, 2015, ...