United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
WILLIAM J. FORD, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
NANNETTE A. BAKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
an action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for judicial review
of the Commissioner of Social Security's final decision
denying William J. Ford's application for disability
insurance benefits under the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.
§ 423 et seq. Ford alleged disability due to
lyme disease, vision problems, exposure to Agent Orange, and
heart problems. (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.
9.] 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 February 16, 2017. For the reasons
set forth below, the Court will affirm the Commissioner's
Issues for Review
asserts two issues for review. First, Ford states that the
administrative law judge's (ALJ) finding of no severe
mental impairment is not supported by substantial evidence.
Second, Ford asserts that the ALJ's residual functional
capacity (RFC) determination is arbitrary, unexplained, and
unsupported by the record. The Commissioner contends that the
ALJ's decision is supported by substantial evidence in
the record and should be affirmed.
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. § 423(d)(1)(A).
uses a five-step analysis to determine whether a claimant
seeking disability benefits is in fact disabled. 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(a)(1). First, the claimant must not be
engaged in substantial gainful activity. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(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. § 404.1520(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. § 404.1520(a)(4)(iii). If the
claimant's impairments do not meet or equal a listed
impairment, the SSA determines the claimant's RFC to
perform past relevant work. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(e).
the claimant must establish that the impairment prevents him
or her from doing past relevant work. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(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. 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