United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern 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 Alicia Findley’s application for disability
insurance benefits and supplemental security income (SSI)
under the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 416,
423 et seq. Findley alleged disability due to high
blood pressure, bulging discs in the spine, arthritis,
scoliosis, degenerative disc in her neck, depression,
anxiety, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), hiatal
hernia, and rotator cuff tendinosis in the left shoulder.
(Tr. 216.) 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. 7.] 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 August 18, 2016. For the reasons set forth below,
the Court will affirm the Commissioner’s final
Issues for Review
presents one issue for review. She contends that the
administrative law judge (ALJ) erred in determining her
residual functional capacity (RFC), because the ALJ failed to
address her depression separately from her anxiety, failed to
find that anxiety and depression were severe impairments, and
improperly evaluated the medical opinion evidence. The
Commissioner contends that the RFC is supported by
substantial evidence in the record as a whole and the
ALJ’s decision should be affirmed.
Standard of Review
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. ...