United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Northern Division
JODY M. WESLEY, 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.
2, 2014, Administrative Law Judge Stephen M. Hanekamp
conducted a video hearing from St. Louis, Missouri. Plaintiff
appeared by video teleconference from Columbia, Missouri and
the Vocational Expert, Denise Ann Weaver, appeared as well.
resides with her son and husband who was also unemployed at
the time of the hearing. Plaintiff was born on November 9,
1980. She was 43years old at the time of the hearing.
Plaintiff completed high school.
has no prior work experience based upon the previous finding
by another ALJ. Plaintiff did not dispute this finding.
examination by counsel, Plaintiff testified, that she has
panic attacks three to four times a week which cause her to
be light-headed, short of breath, and her heart starts
racing. As a consequence she is unable to function for a
period of time.
spends her days taking care of her young son and doing some
house-work. She has a driver's license, but she testified
it was difficult for her to drive because of the medications
she takes There was testimony from Denise Ann Weaver, the
Vocational Expert. Ms. Weaver 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 medium work level available for
Plaintiff as a linen room attendant, hotel and restaurant
industry, a cleaner, hospital, and a stubber.
determined that Plaintiff was not entitled to a finding of
disabled. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request
for review on November 17, 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 issues in this case are
whether substantial evidence supports the ALJ's
determination that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet
or medically equal listing 12.06 and whether substantial
evidence supports the ALJ's residual functional capacity
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 “listings”). 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iii), 416.920(a)(4)(iii).
If the claimant has such an impairment, the Commissioner will
find the claimant disabled; if not, the ALJ proceeds with the
rest of the five-step process. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(d), 416.920(d); McCoy, 648 F.3d at 611.
to Step Four, the ALJ must assess the claimant's
“residual functional capacity”
(“RFC”), which is “the most a claimant can
do despite [his] limitations.” Moore v.
Astrue, 572 F.3d 520, 523 (8th Cir.2009) (citing 20
C.F.R. § 404.1545 (a) (1)); see also 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e). At Step Four, the ALJ
determines whether the claimant can return to his past
relevant work, by comparing the claimant's RFC with the
physical and mental demands of the claimant's past
relevant work. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a) (4) (iv),
404.1520(f), 416.920(a) (4) (iv), 416.920(f); McCoy,
648 F.3d at 611. If the claimant can perform his past
relevant work, he is not disabled; if the claimant cannot,
the analysis proceeds to the next step. Id... At
Step Five, the ALJ considers the claimant's RFC, age,
education, and work experience to determine whether the