The opinion of the court was delivered by: Byron G. Cudmore, U.S. Magistrate Judge
Friday, 07 January, 2011 11:02:12 AM
Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD
Plaintiff Sandra J. Felion appeals from the denial of her application for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (Disability Benefits). 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(I), 423. The parties consented, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), to have this matter proceed before this Court. Consent to Proceed Before a United States Magistrate Judge, and Order of Reference (d/e 8). This appeal is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). For the reasons set forth below, the Decision of the Defendant Commissioner of Social Security is affirmed.
STATEMENT OF FACTS Felion was born on November 12, 1949. Answer (d/e 5), attached Certified Transcript of Proceedings before the Social Security Administration (R.), at 19. She finished the tenth grade and later secured a GED. R. 21. She lives with her husband. Her husband is a disabled veteran, and the couple receives medical care through the Veteran's Administration. R. 21. She injured her right knee in 1971 and had arthroscopic surgery on the knee in 1998. R. 228. Felion had her right knee replaced sometime before May 13, 2005. R. 20. She claimed that she became disabled on May 13, 2005, when she fell and hurt her back.
R. 19. She filed for disability benefits on December 27, 2007.
Felion worked various jobs until 2003, when she began running an inn with her husband. She did not receive any wages for her work at the inn, nor did she pay any self-employment taxes. Because she stopped earning wages in 2003, her last insured date for Disability Benefits was September 30, 2006.*fn1 R. 10. She testified that she could not work at the inn after the May 2005 fall. R. 23.
Felion claimed that she was disabled due to back and knee pain resulting from the fall. In addition, she claimed that she was disabled due to a gastrointestinal disorder and depression. On March 23, 2006, Dr. James D. Toombs, M.D., a staff physician at the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veteran's Hospital in Columbia, Missouri (Truman Hospital), wrote a letter discussing Felion's back problems. R. 209. The letter was addressed to The Combined Insurance Company of America. Felion also signed the letter below Dr. Toombs' signature.
Dr. Toombs stated in the letter, in part: Ms. Felion has been under my care for low back pain since September 2005. She reported this pain began abruptly after a fall in May 2005. She has had a complete work-up and no surgery is indicated at this time. At present, her pain in [sic] being managed with medications and periodic injections.
R. 209. Dr. Toombs stated that Felion helped operate an inn. He stated that her then current usual work activities included:
1) General cleaning including vacuuming & mopping
3) Room servicing including making beds and restocking
5) Periodically moving furniture and shampooing carpets
R. 209. Dr. Toombs also stated: She indicates she is on her feet much of the day. In her duties, she is constantly bending and lifting. As her pain physician, I encourage her to avoid activities that aggravate her pain and avoid activities the [sic] might injure her.
At this time, I do not believe she can complete all the duties required to be a co-owner of a motel.
On December 12, 2006, Felion saw Dr. Donald Snider, M.D., for an initial consultation before a colonoscopy screening. Dr. Snider noted that Felion's medical history included, "at least two paraesophageal hernia repairs as well as a Nissen fundoplication." R. 234. Felion had hernia surgeries in 2002 and 2006. R. 268, 379. Felion also reported to Dr. Snider at the December 2006 visit that she had serious ongoing problems with diarrhea at that time. R. 234.
Dr. Snider saw Felion again on May 24, 2007. Dr. Snider stated that Felion had significant symptoms of dumping syndrome, a serious gastrointestinal condition in which her stomach did not empty properly. Dr. Snider stated:
She has pain in the left side similar to that prior to her two hernia operation [sic]. Her x-ray showed enlargement of her stomach with significant retained food. I believe this is responsible for both the pain and ...