United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
LARRY M. DOOLEY, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's request for
judicial review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) of the final
decision of Defendant denying Plaintiff's application for
supplemental security income under Title XVI of the Social
Security Act (Act), 1381, et seq. For the reasons
set forth below, the Court will affirm the Commissioner's
denial of Plaintiff's applications.
April 17, 2014, Administrative Law Judge David K. Fromme
conducted a video hearing from Springfield, Missouri.
Plaintiff appeared in West Plains, Missouri and the
Vocational Expert, Teppe Hodgson, appeared as well.
resided in a single family house located in Winona, Missouri
at the time of the hearing. Plaintiff noted that his
girlfriend lived with him on occasion. Plaintiff was born on
March 3, 1971. He was 43years old at the time of the hearing.
Plaintiff completed high school.
has prior work experience with Briggs and Stratton as a metal
die castor for about eight or ten months. He also has work
experience at Timber Industries treating lumber for about
three or four months. Plaintiff testified he has welding
experience as a MIG welder from building farm equipment and
trailers. His last work experience, in 2004 or 2005, was that
of a painter for a company called SEI.
further examination by the ALJ the Plaintiff testified, that
he has to use a cane in walking distances greater than 10
feet or so. Further there was testimony relating to limiting
back pain. Plaintiff stated the back pain prevents him from
bending and putting on shoes and that it radiated through his
hip to his right leg. Plaintiff also testified to having
uncontrolled diabetes which causes his feet and ankles to
burn and hurt all the time.
also heard testimony that Plaintiff can lift a gallon of
milk, but not for longer than two and one half hours out of
an eight-hour day. There was also testimony that he has
difficulty concentrating about 75% of the time. Plaintiff
also takes medication for depression and has difficulty
interacting with other people.
was testimony from Dr. Hodgson, the Vocational Expert. Dr.
Hodgson testified and classified the past work experience of
the Plaintiff in relation to the Dictionary of Occupational
Titles. Based upon all of those considerations and the stated
hypotheticals of the ALJ, including stated limitations, the
Vocational Expert concluded there were jobs at the sedentary
work level available for Plaintiff as a reel assembler,
charge account clerk, and having a cane would not affect the
viability of those jobs. The Vocational Expert also testified
that it was her opinion that if Plaintiff had to use the cane
then standing upright would eliminate unskilled sedentary
determined that Plaintiff was not entitled to a finding of
disabled. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request
for review on October 28, 2015. The decision of the ALJ is
now the final decision for review by this court.
issues in a Social Security case are whether the final
decision of the Commissioner is consistent with the Social
Security Act, regulations, and applicable case law, and
whether the findings of fact by the ALJ are supported by
substantial evidence on the record as a whole. Here the
Plaintiff asserts the specific issue in this case is whether
substantial evidence supports the ALJ's RFC finding.
for Determining Disability
Social Security Act defines as disabled a person who is
“unable 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 which
has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period
of not less than twelve months.” 42 U.S.C. §
1382c(a)(3)(A); see also Hurd v. Astrue, 621 F.3d
734, 738 (8th Cir.2010). The impairment must be “of
such severity that [the claimant] is not only unable to do
his previous work but cannot, considering his age, education,
and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial
gainful work which exists in the national economy, regardless
of whether such work exists in the immediate area in which he
lives, or whether a specific job vacancy exists for him, or
whether he would be hired if he applied for work.” 42
U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(B).
five-step regulatory framework is used to determine whether
an individual claimant qualifies for disability benefits. 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a), 416.920(a); see also
McCoy v. Astrue, 648 F.3d 605, 611 (8th Cir.2011)
(discussing the five-step process). At Step One, the ALJ
determines whether the claimant is currently engaging in
“substantial gainful activity”; if so, then he is
not disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(I),
416.920(a)(4)(I); McCoy, 648 F.3d at 611. At Step
Two, the ALJ determines whether the claimant has a severe
impairment, which is “any impairment or combination of
impairments which significantly limits [the claimant's]
physical or mental ability to do basic work
activities”; if the claimant does not have a severe
impairment, he is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a) (4)(ii), 404.1520(c), 416.920(a)(4)(ii),
416.920(c); McCoy, 648 F.3d at 611. At Step Three,
the ALJ evaluates whether the claimant's impairment meets
or equals one of the impairments listed in 20 C.F.R. Part
404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (the ...