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Miller v. Colvin

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

April 27, 2015

Charles Gordon Miller, Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant - Appellee

 Submitted January 16, 2015

Page 473

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

For Charles Gordon Miller, Plaintiff - Appellant: John Vohs, Vohs & Vohs, Savannah, MO.

For Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant - Appellee: Craig Hundley, Assistant Regional Counsel, Kristi Schmidt, Deputy Chief Counsel, Social Security Administration, Office of General Counsel Region VII, Kansas City, MO.

Before LOKEN, MELLOY, and GRUENDER, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 474

GRUENDER, Circuit Judge.

Charles Miller appeals the district court's[1] judgment upholding the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (" Commissioner" ). The Commissioner determined that Miller was not disabled and therefore not entitled to disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income. We affirm.

I. Background

This matter concerns two injuries that Miller suffered: a brain injury from 1998 and a back injury from 2004. Miller claims these injuries caused him to become disabled starting on December 7, 2007. In November 2008, Miller requested disability insurance benefits as well as supplemental security income. He received a hearing before an administrative law judge (" ALJ" ) to determine his entitlement to these benefits. During this hearing, the following evidence was offered.

A car accident in 1998 caused Miller's brain injury. As relevant here, Miller saw Dr. Jon Rupright in June 2003 for follow-up treatment. Miller reported that he was " doing well" and that his memory had improved with medication. Dr. Rupright increased Miller's dosage so that his memory would continue to improve. When Miller saw Dr. Rupright again in February 2004, Miller reported that he was doing " quite good" and that his memory had continued to improve. Miller saw Dr. Rupright again in June 2005. Although Miller complained of short-term memory problems, Dr. Rupright described Miller's

Page 475

brain injury as " fairly stable." At his next appointment in June 2006, Miller worried that his memory had worsened. However, Dr. Rupright believed sleep patterns and stress, not Miller's brain injury, likely caused any decrease in memory. Indeed, Dr. Rupright described Miller's injury as " stable." Miller next saw Dr. Rupright in October 2007, more than one year later. This time, Miller complained of weakness in his left thigh and arm and chronic back and neck pain. Miller denied stumbling or falling as a result of these issues and reported no gait or balance problems. Dr. Rupright ...


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