United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
NANNETTE A. BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
an action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for judicial review
of the Commissioner of Social Security’s final decision
denying Everline Williams’ application for disability
insurance benefits and supplemental security income (SSI)
under the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 416,
423 et seq. Williams alleged disability due to back
pain, right rotator cuff injury, arthritis, joint pain, nerve
damage, swelling of hands, depression, and
sciatica. (Tr. 164.) The parties have consented to
the exercise of authority by the undersigned United States
Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). [Doc.
8.] The Court has reviewed the parties’ briefs and the
entire administrative record, including the hearing
transcripts and the medical evidence. The Court heard oral
argument in this matter on July 26, 2016. For the reasons set
forth below, the Court will affirm the Commissioner’s
2013, Williams applied for disability insurance and SSI,
alleging disability since August 31, 2010. (Tr. 137-44.) The
Social Security Administration (“SSA”) denied
Williams’s claim and she filed a timely request for
hearing before an administrative law judge
(“ALJ”). (Tr. 92-93.) The SSA granted
Williams’s request for review and an administrative
hearing was held on April 18, 2014. (Tr. 28-53.) Williams,
represented by counsel, testified at the hearing. (Tr.
31-52.) On June 10, 2014, the ALJ found that Williams was not
disabled as defined in the Society Security Act. (Tr. 12-22.)
Williams requested a review of the ALJ’s decision from
the Appeals Council. (Tr. 8.) On May 5, 2015, the Appeals
Council of the Social Security Administration denied
Williams’ request for review. (Tr. 1-4.) The decision
of the ALJ thus stands as the final decision of the
Commissioner. See Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 107
filed this appeal on June 16, 2015. [Doc 1.] The Commissioner
filed an Answer and the certified Administrative Transcript
on August 24, 2015. [Docs. 11, 12.] Williams filed a Brief in
Support of the Complaint on September 23, 2015. [Doc. 13.]
The Commissioner filed a Brief in Support of the Answer on
October 22, 2015. [Doc. 14.]
Standard of Review
Social Security Act defines disability as an “inability
to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of
any medically determinable physical or mental impairment
which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can
be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than
12 months.” 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i)(1)(A),
uses a five-step analysis to determine whether a claimant
seeking disability benefits is in fact disabled. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(1), 416.920(a)(1). First, the
claimant must not be engaged in substantial gainful activity.
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i), 416.920(a)(4)(i).
Second, the claimant must establish that he or she has an
impairment or combination of impairments that significantly
limits his or her ability to perform basic work activities
and meets the durational requirements of the Act. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4)(ii), 416.920(a)(4)(ii). Third,
the claimant must establish that his or her impairment meets
or equals an impairment listed in the appendix to the
applicable regulations. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(iii), 416.920(a)(4)(iii). If the
claimant’s impairments do not meet or equal a listed
impairment, the SSA determines the claimant’s residual
functional capacity (RFC) to perform past relevant work. 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e).
the claimant must establish that the impairment prevents him
or her from doing past relevant work. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(iv), 416.920(a)(4)(iv). If the claimant meets
this burden, the analysis proceeds to step five. At step
five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to establish that
the claimant maintains the RFC to perform a significant
number of jobs in the national economy. Singh v.
Apfel, 222 F.3d 448, 451 (8th Cir. 2000). If the
claimant satisfies all of the criteria under the five-step
evaluation, the ALJ will find the claimant to be disabled. 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v), 416.920(a)(4)(v).
standard of review is narrow. Pearsall v. Massanari,
274 F.3d 1211, 1217 (8th Cir. 2001). 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 enough that a reasonable mind would find
adequate support for the ALJ’s decision. Smith v.
Shalala, 31 F.3d 715, 717 (8th Cir. 1994). The court
determines whether evidence is substantial by considering
evidence that detracts from the Commissioner’s decision
as well as evidence that supports it. Cox v.
Barnhart, 471 F.3d 902, 906 (8th Cir. 2006). The Court
may not reverse just because substantial evidence exists that
would support a contrary outcome or because the Court would
have decided the case differently. Id. If, after
reviewing the record as a whole, the Court finds it possible
to draw two inconsistent positions from the evidence and one
of those positions represents the Commissioner’s
finding, the Commissioner’s decision must be affirmed.
Masterson v. Barnhart, 363 F.3d 731, 736 (8th Cir.
2004). To determine whether the ALJ’s final decision is
supported by substantial evidence, the Court is required to
review the administrative record as a whole to consider:
(1) The findings of credibility made by the ALJ;
(2) The education, background, work history, and age of the
(3) The medical evidence given by the claimant’s
(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 prior
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. &
623 F.2d 523, 527 (8th Cir. ...