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Box v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

June 23, 2015

PHYLLIS BOX, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

ORDER

MATT J. WHITWORTH, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Phyllis Box seeks judicial review[1] 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 23, 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.

Discussion

After consideration of the parties' arguments and a review of the record, this Court finds the decision of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is supported by substantial evidence in the record. Here, the ALJ concluded that the plaintiff's claims of disabling symptoms were not credible based on inconsistencies that are supported by the record as a whole. See Eichelberger v. Barnhart, 390 F.3d 584, 590 (8th Cir. 2004) ("We will not substitute our opinion for that of the ALJ, who is in a better position to assess credibility."). The ALJ ultimately determined that the plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform light work with certain limitations, and therefore was not under a disability as defined by the Social Security Act. This Court concludes that based on the record, the ALJ's decision in this case is supported by substantial evidence.

IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that the decision of the Commissioner is affirmed.

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