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Derfler v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

August 6, 2014

GAIL C. DERFLER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

NANNETTE A. BAKER, Magistrate Judge.

The following opinion is intended to be the opinion of the Court judicially reviewing the denial of Gail C. Derfler's ("Derfler") application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income ("SSI") under the Social Security Act. The Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The parties have consented to the exercise of authority by the United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). [Doc. 6.] The Court has reviewed the parties' briefs and the entire administrative record, including the hearing transcript and the medical evidence. The Court heard oral argument on the pleadings of the parties on July 22, 2014. The Court now issues its ruling in this opinion. Because the Court finds that the decision denying benefits is not supported by substantial evidence, the Court will reverse and remand the decision to the Commissioner.

I. Issues for Review

Derfler asserts three errors for review. First, Derfler contends that the administrative law judge ("ALJ") improperly failed to give controlling weight to the opinions of her treating physicians. Second, she asserts that the ALJ failed to properly evaluate her credibility. Finally, she contends the ALJ relied on flawed vocational expert testimony when determining her disability status.

II. Standard of Review

This Court reviews decisions of the ALJ to determine whether the decision is supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance but is enough that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the Commissioner's conclusion." Krogmeier v. Barnhart, 294 F.3d 1019, 1022 (8th Cir. 2002); see also Cox v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 614, 617 (8th Cir. 2007). Therefore, even if a court finds that there is a preponderance of the evidence against the ALJ's decision, the ALJ's decision must be affirmed if it is supported by substantial evidence. Clark v. Heckler, 733 F.2d 65, 68 (8th Cir. 1984). To determine whether the Commissioner's final decision is supported by substantial evidence, the Court is required to review the administrative record as a whole and to consider:

(1) The findings of credibility made by the ALJ;

(2) The education, background, work history, and age of the claimant;

(3) The medical evidence given by the claimant's treating physicians;

(4) The subjective complaints of pain and description of the claimant's physical activity and impairment;

(5) The corroboration by third parties of the claimant's physical impairment;

(6) The testimony of vocational experts based upon proper hypothetical questions which fairly set forth the claimant's physical impairment; and

(7) The testimony of consulting physicians.

Brand v. Sec'y of Dept. of Health, Educ. & Welfare, 623 F.2d 523, 527 (8th ...


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