United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
MATT J. WHITWORTH, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Greta Wigfall seeks judicial review of a final administrative decision denying plaintiff disability benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401 et seq. Section 205(g) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) provides for judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration under Title II.
The parties' briefs are fully submitted, and an oral argument was held on June 16, 2015. The complete facts and arguments are presented in the parties' briefs and will not be repeated here.
Standard of Review
The Eighth Circuit has set forth the standard for the federal courts' judicial review of denial of benefits, as follows:
Our role on review is to determine whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole. Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance, but is enough that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the Commissioner's conclusion. In determining whether existing evidence is substantial, we consider evidence that detracts from the Commissioner's decision as well as evidence that supports it. As long as substantial evidence in the record supports the Commissioner's decision, we may not reverse it because substantial evidence exists in the record that would have supported a contrary outcome or because we would have decided the case differently.
Baker v. Barnhart, 457 F.3d 882, 892 (8th Cir. 2006).
The claimant has the initial burden of establishing the existence of a disability as defined by 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1). See Roth v. Shalala, 45 F.3d 279, 282 (8th Cir. 1995). To meet the statutory definition, "the claimant must show (1) that he has a medically determinable physical or mental impairment which will either last for at least twelve months or result in death, (2) that he is unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity, and (3) that this inability is the result of his impairment." McMillian v. Schweiker, 697 F.2d 215, 220 (8th Cir. 1983).
When reviewing the record to determine if there is substantial evidence to support the administrative decision, the court considers the educational background, work history and present age of the claimant; subjective complaints of pain or other impairments; claimant's description of physical activities and capabilities; the medical opinions given by treating and examining physicians; the corroboration by third parties of claimant's impairments; and the testimony of vocational experts when based upon proper hypothetical questions that fairly set forth the claimant's impairments. McMillian, 697 F.2d at 221.
Upon review, this Court finds that the administrative record is not sufficiently developed to make a determination as to plaintiff's disability. Battles v. Shalala, 36 F.3d 43, 45 (8th Cir. 1994) (determination of when the Commissioner has failed to develop the record is made on a case-by-case basis). The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) ultimately found that the plaintiff's residual functional capacity (RFC) did not preclude her from performing a full range of light work. However, the ALJ had no medical evidence addressing the plaintiff's functional capacities. After reviewing the record in this case, the Court concludes that the ALJ should have at least ordered a consultative examination to assess the plaintiff's residual functional activity and that therefore remand for further development of the record is appropriate. See Nevland v. Apfel, 204 F.3d 853 (8th Cir. 2000) (reversing and remanding on the grounds that there was no medical evidence about how the claimant's impairments affect her functioning). The Commissioner is directed to order a consultative examination of the plaintiff to assess her functional limitations. With the results from the consultative exam, the ALJ should again evaluate whether the plaintiff is disabled as defined by the Social Security Act.
IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that the decision of the Commissioner is reversed and this case is remanded pursuant to Sentence 4 for further consideration and ...