United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
TAMELA L. DEMOREUILLE, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
ORDER AND OPINION AFFIRMING IN PART AND REVERSING IN
PART THE COMMISSIONER’S FINAL DECISION DENYING
D. SMITH, SENIOR JUDGE
is Plaintiff’s appeal of the Commissioner of Social
Security’s final decision denying her application for
disability and disability insurance benefits. The
Commissioner’s decision is affirmed in part, reversed
in part, and the case is remanded for further proceedings.
appeals Defendant’s decision denying her
benefits. Plaintiff was born in 1962, completed high
school, and has past work experience in secretarial and
office manager roles. R. at 12, 15. Plaintiff sought
disability insurance benefits due to fibromyalgia and other
impairments including depression, anxiety, and sleep apnea.
R. at 15-18. The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following
severe impairments: fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, status
post repair of a right shoulder impingement, degenerative
disc disease, restless leg syndrome, and internal derangement
of the knee. R. at 51. Despite Plaintiff’s severe
impairments, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was not disabled
and found Plaintiff had a residual functional capacity
[T]o perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b)
except for being limited to sitting four hours at one time
without interruption and eight hours total in a workday,
standing three hours at one time without interruption and six
hours total in an eight hour workday and walking three hours
at a time without interruption and six hours total in an
eight hour workday. She can reach overhead occasionally,
reach all other directions and handle, finger, feel, push and
pull continuously with the right hand. She can reach
overhead, reach in all other directions, handle, finger,
feel, push and pull continuously with the left hand. She can
operate foot controls continuously with either foot. She can
occasionally climb stairs and crawl, never climb ladders or
scaffolds and frequently balance, stoop, kneel and crouch.
She can never work at unprotected heights, occasionally be
exposed to humidity, wetness and extreme cold and frequently
work around moving mechanical parts, operate a motor vehicle
and be exposed to dust, odors, fumes, pulmonary irritants,
extreme heat and vibration. She can work in very loud noise.
She is limited to performing simple, routine, repetitive
tasks. She can engage in occasional decision making and
changes in in [sic] the work setting. She can occasionally
interact with the public, coworkers and supervisors.
R. at 55. Based on the testimony of a vocational expert
(“VE”), the ALJ determined Plaintiff could work
as a retail marker, electronic subassembler, and bench
assembler. R. at 64.
Standard of Review
Court’s review of the Commissioner’s decision is
limited to a determination whether the decision is
“supported by substantial evidence on the record as a
whole. Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance
but…enough that a reasonable mind would find it
adequate to support the conclusion.” Andrews v.
Colvin, 791 F.3d 923, 928 (8th Cir. 2015) (citations
omitted). “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.” Cline v.
Colvin, 771 F.3d 1098, 1102 (8th Cir. 2014) (citation
omitted). Though advantageous to the Commissioner, this
standard also requires that the Court consider evidence that
fairly detracts from the final decision. Anderson v.
Astrue, 696 F.3d 790, 793 (8th Cir. 2015) (citation
omitted). Substantial evidence means “more than a mere
scintilla” of evidence; rather, it is relevant evidence
that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion. Gragg v. Astrue, 615 F.3d 932, 938 (8th
argues the ALJ’s RFC is unsupported as to
Plaintiff’s mental impairments because an RFC limiting
her to “simple, routine, repetitive tasks” does
not address her moderate difficulties in maintaining
concentration, persistence, or pace. Doc. #13, at 23.
Plaintiff also contends the ALJ failed to include these
limitations in his hypothetical question to the VE.
Id. The Court agrees.
specifically found that “[w]ith regard to
concentration, persistence or pace, the claimant had moderate
difficulties.” R. at 54. But limitations associated with
this finding were not accurately reflected in the ALJ’s
RFC. R. at 55. The ALJ erred in failing to include these
moderate limitations in the RFC. See Lewis v.
Barnhart, 353 F.3d 642, 646 (8th Cir. 2003) (citations
omitted) (holding an “ALJ is required to set forth
specifically a claimant’s limitations and determine how
those limitations affect her RFC.”). Specifically, the
ALJ failed to include moderate limitations associated with
Plaintiff’s difficulty in maintaining persistence and
the hearing, the ALJ posed a hypothetical question to the VE.
In relevant part, the ALJ asked if a person, of the
claimant’s age, education, and work experience would be
able to do work:
limited to simple, routine, and repetitive tasks requiring
only occasional decision making and occasional changes in the
work setting; occasional interaction with the ...