United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
NANNETTE A. BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Kimberly Gore's (Gore)
appeal regarding the denial of her application for
supplemental security income under the Social Security Act.
The Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this
action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Gore alleged disability
due to fibromyalgia, back injury, attention deficit disorder
(ADD), and chronic fatigue syndrome. (Tr. 150.) 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.] Based on the following, the
Court will affirm the Commissioner's decision.
January 10, 2013, Gore applied for supplemental security
income with an alleged onset date of March 1, 2012. (Tr.
119-24.) The Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) denied Gore's claim and she filed a
timely request for a hearing before an administrative law
judge (“ALJ”). (Tr. 64-71.) The SSA granted
Gore's request for review. (Tr. 72-74.) An administrative
hearing was held on April 1, 2014. (Tr. 26-54.) Gore, who was
represented by counsel, and a vocational expert testified at
the hearing. On April 25, 2014, the ALJ issued a written
opinion upholding the denial of benefits. (Tr. 11-19.) Gore
requested review of the ALJ's decision from the Appeals
Council. (Tr. 23.) On August 26, 2015, the Appeals Council
denied Gore'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). Gore filed this appeal on October 15, 2015. [Doc. 1.]
The Commissioner filed an Answer and the certified
Administrative Transcript on December 16, 2015. [Docs. 9,
10.] Gore filed a Brief in Support of Complaint on January
18, 2016. [Doc. 11.] The Commissioner filed a Brief in
Support of the Answer on April 20, 2016. [Doc. 18.]
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)(4)(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 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
claimant's physical impairment; and
(7) The testimony of consulting physicians.
Brand v. Sec'y of Dept. of Health, Educ. &
Welfare, 623 F.2d 523, 527 (8th Cir. 1980).
determined that Gore had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since January 4, 2013. (Tr. 13.) The ALJ found Gore
had the severe impairment of fibromyalgia. (Tr. 13.) The ALJ
also found that Gore did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the
severity of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 15.) The ALJ then found that Gore
had the RFC to perform the full range of light work, as
defined in 20 C.F.R. § 416.967(b). (Tr. 15.) The ALJ
found that Gore had no past relevant work, but there were
jobs in the national economy that she could perform. (Tr.
17-18.) Finally, the ALJ concluded that Gore had not been
under a disability as defined in the Social Security Act,
since January 4, 2013, the date the application was filed.
following is a summary of relevant evidence before the ALJ.