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Potter v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

September 27, 2016

JOSEPH POTTER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          ABBIE CRITES-LEONI MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Joseph Potter brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of the Social Security Administration Commissioner's denial of his application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act. Potter alleged that he was disabled because of anxiety and back pain due to kyphoscoliosis.[1] (Tr. 164.)

         An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that Potter had several medically determinable impairments, but did not have a severe impairment or combination of impairments during the relevant period and was not, therefore, disabled.

         This matter is pending before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge, with consent of the parties, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). A summary of the entire record is presented in the parties' briefs and is repeated here only to the extent necessary.

         I. Procedural History

         Potter protectively filed his application for DIB on February 10, 2012, claiming that he became unable to work due to his disabling condition on June 1, 2004.[2] (Tr. 128-36.) Potter's claim was denied initially. (Tr. 63.) Following an administrative hearing, Potter's claim was denied in a written opinion by an ALJ, dated December 18, 2013. (Tr. 12-26.) Potter then filed a request for review of the ALJ's decision with the Appeals Council of the Social Security Administration (SSA), which was denied on March 6, 2015. (Tr. 8, 1-3.) Thus, the decision of the ALJ stands as the final decision of the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. '' 404.981, 416.1481.

         In the instant action, Potter claims that the ALJ erred in “failing to recontact the claimant's treating medical provider as required by 20 C.F.R. ' 404.1512(E).” (Doc. 18 at 9.)

         II. The ALJ's Determination

         The ALJ found that Potter met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on September 30, 2010, and that he has not engaged in substantial gainful activity from his alleged onset date of January 1, 2007, through his date last insured of September 30, 2010.[3] (Tr. 14-15.)

         In addition, the ALJ concluded that, through his date last insured, Potter's asthma, thoracolumbar dextroscoliosis, [4] obesity, and learning disorder were medically determinable impairments. (Tr. 15.) The ALJ found that Potter did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that has significantly limited or is expected to significantly limit the ability to perform basic work-related activities for twelve consecutive months through his date last insured. (Tr. 16.) The ALJ therefore concluded that Potter did not have a severe impairment or combination of impairments during the relevant period. Id.

         The ALJ found that Potter has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, at any time from January 1, 2007, the alleged onset date, through September 30, 2010, the date last insured. (Tr. 25.)

         The ALJ's final decision reads as follows:

Based on the application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits protectively filed on February 10, 2012, the claimant was not disabled under sections 216(i) and 223(d) of the Social Security Act through September 30, 2010, the last date insured.

(Tr. 26.)

         III. Applicable Law

         III.A. Standard of Review

         The decision of the Commissioner must be affirmed if it is supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Estes v. Barnhart, 275 F.3d 722, 724 (8th Cir. 2002). Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance of the evidence, but enough that a reasonable person would find it adequate to support the conclusion. Johnson v. Apfel, 240 F.3d 1145, 1147 (8th Cir. 2001). This “substantial evidence test, ” however, is “more than a mere search of the record for evidence supporting the Commissioner's findings.” Coleman v. Astrue, 498 F.3d 767, 770 (8th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). “Substantial evidence on the record as a whole . . . requires a more scrutinizing analysis.” Id. (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

         To determine whether the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole, the Court must review ...


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