United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
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 Bennie Woodland's application for disability
insurance benefits under the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.
§ 423 et seq. Woodland alleged disability due
to acanthamoeba keratitis. (Tr. 208.) 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.] For the reasons set forth below, the Court will affirm
the Commissioner's final decision.
December 28, 2011, Woodland applied for disability insurance
benefits, alleging disability since November 2,
2011. (Tr. 163-176.) The Social Security
Administration (“SSA”) denied Woodland's
claim and he filed a timely request for hearing before an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”). (Tr. 94-105,
119-20.) The SSA granted Woodland's request for review
and an administrative hearing was held on November 25, 2013.
(Tr. 29-64.) Woodland, who was represented by counsel, and a
vocational expert testified at the hearing. On December 23,
2013, the ALJ found that Woodland was not disabled as defined
in the Society Security Act. (Tr. 17-24.) Woodland requested
a review of the ALJ's decision from the Appeals Council.
(Tr. 9.) On April 10, 2015, the Appeals Council of the Social
Security Administration denied Woodland'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 (2000).
filed this appeal on June 12, 2015. [Doc 1.] The Commissioner
filed an Answer and the certified Administrative Transcript
on August 24, 2015. [Docs. 11, 12.] Woodland filed a Brief in
Support of the Complaint on January 21, 2016. [Doc. 21.] The
Commissioner filed a Brief in Support of the Answer on March
23, 2016. [Doc. 24.]
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 treating
(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
(6) The testimony of vocational experts based upon prior
hypothetical questions which fairly set forth the