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Green v. Colvin

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

September 27, 2016

SHARON GREEN, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          ABBIE CRITES-LEONI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Sharon Green brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of the Social Security Administration Commissioner's denial of her applications for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Act.

         An Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found that, despite Green's severe bilateral shoulder joint pain, she was not disabled as she had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform past work as a retail sales clerk, and other jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy.

         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

         Green protectively filed her applications for DIB and SSI on April 12, 2012, alleging that she became unable to work due to her disabling condition on April 9, 2012. (Tr. 142-48, 135-41.) Her claims were denied initially. (Tr. 71, 72.) Following an administrative hearing, Green's claims were denied in a written opinion by an ALJ, dated January 23, 2014. (Tr. 13-26.) Green 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 April 20, 2015. (Tr. 7, 1-5.) 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, Green first claims that the “[s]ubstantial evidence does not support the ALJ's finding that Plaintiff can frequently reach overhead.” (Doc. 12 at 10.) Green next argues that the ALJ erred “in finding Plaintiff could return to past relevant work at a job that was not performed at substantial gainful activity.” Id. at 14. Green finally argues that the ALJ “failed to identify or resolve the overhead reaching conflicts between the VE testimony and the DOT/SCO description of the identified jobs.” Id. at 15.

         II. The ALJ's Determination

         The ALJ stated that Green met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2016. (Tr. 15.) The ALJ found that Green had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 9, 2012. Id.

         In addition, the ALJ concluded that Green had the following severe impairment: post-surgery bilateral shoulder joint pain. Id. The ALJ found that Green did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or equals in severity the requirements of any listed impairment. (Tr. 16.)

         As to Green's RFC, the ALJ stated:

After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) in that the claimant can stand/walk six hours out of an eight-hour workday; can sit six hours out of an eight hour workday; can occasionally lift 20 pounds, 10 pounds frequently; must avoid climbing ropes, ladders, and scaffolds; can frequently push and pull with the bilateral upper extremities; and can frequently reach overhead.

(Tr. 17.)

         In support of this determination, the ALJ stated that the record did not contain any opinions from treating or examining physicians indicating that Green was disabled or that she had greater limitations. (Tr. 23.) The ALJ also performed a credibility analysis and found that Green's allegations regarding her limitations were not entirely credible. (Tr. 21.)

         The ALJ further found that Green was capable of performing past relevant work as a retail sales clerk. Id. The ALJ found in the alternative that there were other jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Green can also perform, such as mail sorter, marker, and cashier. (Tr. 24-25.) The ALJ therefore concluded that Green has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from April 9, 2012, through the date of the decision. (Tr. 26.)

         The ALJ's final decision reads as follows:

Based on the application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits protectively filed on April 12, 2012, the claimant is not disabled under sections 216(i) and 223(d) of the Social Security Act.
Based on the application for supplemental security income protectively filed on April 12, 2012, the claimant is not disabled under section 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social Security Act.

Id.

         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 the entire administrative record and consider:

1. The credibility findings made by ...

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