United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CRITES-LEONI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Shannon Lewis brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), seeking judicial review of the Social Security
Administration Commissioner's denial of her 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 Lewis' severe impairments, she was not disabled
as she 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 matter is reversed and remanded for
protectively filed her applications for DIB and SSI on July
31, 2012. (Tr. 17, 214-20, 221-26.) She alleged that she
became disabled on March 9, 2011, due to chronic erythema
multiforme,  bipolar disorder, anxiety, panic, and
irritable bowel syndrome (“IBS”). (Tr. 214-26,
275.) Lewis' claims were denied initially. (Tr. 130-31,
137-43.) Following an administrative hearing, Lewis'
claims were denied in a written opinion by an ALJ, dated June
4, 2014. (Tr. 17-28.) Lewis 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
November 18, 2015. (Tr. 6, 1-5.) Thus, the decision of the
ALJ stands as the final decision of the Commissioner.
See 20 C.F.R. '' 404.981, 416.1481.
instant action, Lewis claims that the ALJ “failed to
properly consider opinion evidence.” (Doc. 15 at 3.)
The ALJ's Determination
stated that Lewis met the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2016. (Tr. 19.) The
ALJ found that Lewis had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since her alleged onset date of March 9, 2011.
addition, the ALJ concluded that Lewis had the following
severe impairments: depression and an anxiety disorder with
panic attacks. (Tr. 20.) The ALJ found that Lewis 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.
Lewis' RFC, the ALJ stated:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all
exertional levels but with the following nonexertional
limitations: the claimant is able to perform very simple
jobs, defined as work involving only one to two-step tasks.
She must work in a job involving only occasional
decision-making, no significant changes in the work setting,
end-of-workday production quotas, and only occasional
interaction with the public, co-workers and supervisors, with
no performance of tandem tasks.
found that Lewis' allegations regarding her limitations
were not entirely credible. (Tr. 26.) In determining
Lewis' RFC, the ALJ indicated that she was assigning
“some weight” to the opinion of non-examining
state agency psychiatrist, Lester Bland, Psy.D. (Tr. 24.) The
ALJ accorded “little weight” to the opinion of
treating psychiatrist Jordan Balter, M.D. Id.
further found that Lewis is unable to perform any past
relevant work. (Tr. 26.) The ALJ noted that a vocational
expert testified that Lewis could perform jobs existing in
significant numbers in the national economy, such as silver
wrapper, and hand trimmer. (Tr. 27.) The ALJ therefore
concluded that Lewis has not been under a disability, as
defined in the Social Security Act, from March 9, 2011,
through the date of the decision. (Tr. 28.)
ALJ's final decision reads as follows:
Based on the application for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits filed on July 31, 2012, the
claimant is not disabled under sections 216(i) and 223(d) of
the Social Security Act.
Based on the application for supplemental security income
protectively field on July 31, 2012, the claimant is not
disabled under section 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social Security
A. 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 the entire administrative record and
1. The credibility findings made by the ALJ.
2. The plaintiff's vocational factors.
3. The medical evidence from treating and consulting