United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Northern Division
STEVEN J. WISEMAN, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CRITES-LEONI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Steven Wiseman brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), seeking judicial review of the Social Security
Administration Commissioner's denial of his application
for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under
Title II of the Social Security Act and Supplemental Security
Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Act.
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found that,
despite Wiseman's severe impairments, he was not disabled
as he had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform jobs that exist in significant
numbers in the national economy.
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.
following reasons, the decision of the Commissioner will be
filed his applications for DIB and SSI on March 4, 2013. (Tr.
158-71.) He alleged that he became disabled on June 8, 2012,
due to left eye blindness, right hip pain, and right ankle
problems. (Tr. 158-71, 210.) Wiseman's claims were denied
initially. (Tr. 69-73.) Following an administrative hearing,
Wiseman's claims were denied in a written opinion by an
ALJ, dated October 24, 2014. (Tr. 19-27.) Wiseman 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 October 14, 2015. (Tr. 15, 1-6.) Thus,
the decision of the ALJ stands as the final decision of the
Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. '' 404.981,
instant action, Wiseman first claims that the ALJ
“erred in failing to properly analyze the opinion
evidence of treating physician Trone in that the ALJ did not
give good reasons for rejecting Dr. Trone's opinion that
Plaintiff could only stand two hours out of an eight hour
work day and sit two hours out of an eight hour work day and
that Plaintiff would miss two or more days per month in that
the ALJ did not consider the length of Plaintiff's
treatment by Dr. Trone, the frequency of this examinations,
the nature and extent of the treatment relationship, the
supportability of Dr. Trone's opinion, the consistency of
the opinion with the record as a whole, or Dr. Trone's
specialization.” (Doc. 17-1 at 16.) Wiseman next argues
that the ALJ erred “in analyzing Plaintiff's
credibility in that the ALJ did not point to any
inconsistencies in Plaintiff's testimony that would
logically detract from Plaintiff's allegation of
disabling pain and therefore the ALJ's decision finding
Plaintiff not disabled was not supported by substantial
evidence on the whole record.” Id. at 20.
Finally, Wiseman argues that the “ALJ decision has
affirmed by the Appeals Council it was not based on
substantial evidence in that the Appeals Council did not
consider the evidence presented about Plaintiff's
prescription for a cane and the Appeals Council did not
consider the Medical Vocational Guidelines as to
Plaintiff's eligibility under the Guidelines after his
55th birthday on April 15, 2015.” Id. at 23.
The ALJ's Determination
first stated that Wiseman met the insured status requirements
of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2016. (Tr.
21.) The ALJ found that Wiseman had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since his alleged onset date of
June 8, 2012. Id.
addition, the ALJ concluded that Wiseman had the following
severe impairments: degenerative joint disease in the hip and
ankle; blind left eye; and chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease. Id. The ALJ found that Wiseman did not have
an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or
equals in severity the requirements of any impairment listed
in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 22.)
Wiseman's RFC, the ALJ stated:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except he requires a sit/stand
option allowing him to sit or stand alternatively at will
provided he is not off task for more than 10 percent of the
work period. He cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. He
can occasionally climb ramps or stairs. He can occasionally
stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. He must avoid concentrated
exposure to poorly ventilated areas. He must avoid all use of
hazardous machinery, defined as unshielded, moving machinery
and all exposure to unprotected heights. He is limited to
occupations that do not require peripheral acuity. He is
limited to occupations with no strict production quota with
the emphasis being on a per shift, rather than a per hour
basis. Meaning, the employer requires so many widgets per day
versus so many widgets per hour.
found that Wiseman's allegations regarding his
limitations were not entirely credible. (Tr. 24.) In
determining Wiseman's RFC, the ALJ indicated that he was
assigning “partial weight” to the opinion of
consultative examiner Dennis A. Velez, M.D. Id. The
ALJ assigned “little weight” to the opinion of
treating physician, Aaron M. Trone, D.O. (Tr. 25.)
further found that Wiseman is unable to perform any past
relevant work. (Tr. 26.) The ALJ noted that a vocational
expert testified that Wiseman could perform jobs existing in
significant numbers in the national economy, such as garment
sorter, folding machine operator, and lens matcher. (Tr. 27.)
The ALJ therefore concluded that Wiseman has not been under a
disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from June
8, 2012, through the date of the decision. Id.
ALJ's final decision reads as follows:
Based on the application for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits protectively filed on March 4,
2013, the claimant is not disabled as defined in sections
216(i) and 223(d) of the Social Security Act.
Based on the application for supplemental security income
filed on March 4, 2013, the claimant is not disabled under
section 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social Security Act.
Standard of Review
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).
determine whether the Commissioner's decision is
supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole,
the Court must review ...