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Oatis v. Berryhill

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

January 25, 2017

EDWARD OATIS, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL[1], Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANNETTE A. BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This is an action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for judicial review of the Commissioner of Social Security's final decision denying Edward Oatis' application for supplemental security income under the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 416 et seq. Oatis alleged disability due to injury to right wrist, high blood pressure, and trouble understanding. (Tr. 201.) 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.] The Court has reviewed the parties' briefs and the entire administrative record, including the hearing transcripts and the medical evidence. The Court heard oral argument in this matter on January 25, 2017. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will affirm the Commissioner's final decision.

         I. Issues for Review

         Oatis presents one issue for review. He contends that the residual functional capacity (RFC) is not supported by substantial evidence for three reasons: (1) failure to include manipulative limitations due to Oatis' severe impairment of dominant right upper extremity, (2) erroneous finding that he could perform work at the medium exertional level, and (3) an unsupported credibility analysis. The Commissioner asserts that the ALJ's decision is supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole and should be affirmed.

         II. Standard of Review

         The 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).

         The 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 claimant;
(3) The medical evidence given by the claimant's treating physician;
(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 physical impairment;
(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. ...


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