United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
DEAN H. BERINGER, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
NANNETTE A. BAKER MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
an action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for judicial review
of the Commissioner of Social Security's final decision
denying Dean Beringer's application for supplemental
security income under the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.
§ 416 et seq. Beringer alleged disability due
to depression, inability to focus, bulging discs, arthritis
in spine, inability to stand more than thirty minutes,
inability to sit more than fifteen minutes, chronic
bronchitis, asthma, and chronic pain. (Tr. 190.) 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. 9.] For the reasons set forth
below, the Court will reverse and remand the
Commissioner's final decision.
7, 2011, Beringer applied for supplemental security income,
alleging disability since September 9, 2010. (Tr. 159-67.)
The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) denied
Beringer's claim and he filed a timely request for
hearing before an administrative law judge
(“ALJ”). (Tr. 98-99, 110-112.) The SSA granted
Beringer's request for review and an administrative
hearing was held on February 25, 2013. (Tr. 43-70.) Beringer,
represented by counsel, testified at the hearing. (Tr.
49-70.) On March 4, 2014, the ALJ found that Beringer was not
disabled as defined in the Society Security Act. (Tr. 14-36.)
Beringer requested a review of the ALJ's decision from
the Appeals Council. (Tr. 10.) On July 17, 2015, the Appeals
Council of the Social Security Administration denied
Beringer's 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 September 14, 2015. [Doc 1.] The
Commissioner filed an Answer and the certified Administrative
Transcript on November 16, 2015. [Docs. 11, 12.] Beringer
filed a Brief in Support of the Complaint on January 20,
2016. [Doc. 15.] The Commissioner filed a Brief in Support of
the Answer on April 20, 2016. [Doc. 21.] Beringer then filed
a Reply Brief on May 3, 2016. [Doc. 22.] Beringer filed a
Notice of Supplemental Authority on September 1, 2016. [Doc.
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.
§ 416.920(a)(1). First, the claimant must not be engaged
in substantial gainful activity. 20 C.F.R. §
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. § 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. § 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. § 416.920(e).
the claimant must establish that the impairment prevents him
or her from doing past relevant work. 20 C.F.R. §
416.920(a)(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. §
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 treating
(4) The subjective complaints of pain and description of the
claimant's physical ...