United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
ORDER AND OPINION AFFIRMING COMMISSIONER'S FINAL
DECISION DENYING BENEFITS
D. SMITH, SENIOR JUDGE
is Plaintiff's appeal of the Commissioner of Social
Security's final decision denying his application for
disability and disability insurance benefits. For the
following reasons, the Commissioner's decision is
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court's review of the Commissioner's decision is
limited to a determination whether the decision is
“supported by substantial evidence on the record as a
whole. Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance
but…enough that a reasonable mind would find it
adequate to support the conclusion.” Andrews v.
Colvin, 791 F.3d 923, 928 (8th Cir. 2015) (citations
omitted). “As long as substantial evidence in the
record supports the Commissioner's decision, we may not
reverse it because substantial evidence exists in the record
that would have supported a contrary outcome, or because we
would have decided the case differently.” Cline v.
Colvin, 771 F.3d 1098, 1102 (8th Cir. 2014) (citation
omitted). Though advantageous to the Commissioner, this
standard also requires that the Court consider evidence that
fairly detracts from the final decision. Anderson v.
Astrue, 696 F.3d 790, 793 (8th Cir. 2015) (citation
omitted). Substantial evidence means “more than a mere
scintilla” of evidence; rather, it is relevant evidence
that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion. Gragg v. Astrue, 615 F.3d 932, 938 (8th
was born in 1950, and completed two years of college. R. at
94, 131. His prior work experience includes truck driving and
process serving. R. at 146. Plaintiff applied for disability
and disability insurance benefits in November 2012, alleging
he became disabled on December 31, 2005. R. at 12, 94-100.
Plaintiff's application was denied, and he requested a
hearing. On August 7, 2014, a video hearing was held before
an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). R. at 22-30.
On March 2, 2015, the ALJ issued her decision, finding
Plaintiff was not disabled. R. at 12-17.
In reaching her decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff had chronic
liver disease and affective disorders, but concluded
Plaintiff's impairments did not “significantly
limited the ability to perform basic work-related activities
for 12 consecutive months.” Id. at 14-17.
Because these impairments were not severe, Plaintiff was not
disabled. Id. Plaintiff appealed the ALJ's
decision to the Appeals Council, which dismissed his appeal
in April 2016. R. at 1-3.
contends the Commissioner's decision should be reversed
because (a) the ALJ did not apply the Polaski
factors to explain why Plaintiff was not “entirely
credible, ” and (b) the ALJ failed to fully develop the
argues the ALJ did not apply the Polaski factors
when she analyzed Plaintiff's credibility. The familiar
standard for analyzing a claimant's subjective complaints
is set forth in Polaski v. Heckler, 739 F.2d 1320
(8th Cir. 1984):
While the claimant has the burden of proving that the
disability results from a medically determinable physical or
mental impairment, direct medical evidence of the cause and
effect relationship between the impairment and the degree of
claimant's subjective complaints need not be produced.
The adjudicator may not disregard a claimant's subjective
complaints solely because the objective medical evidence does
not fully support them.
The absence of an objective medical basis which supports the
degree of severity of subjective complaints alleged is just
one factor to be considered in evaluating the credibility of
the testimony and complaints. The adjudicator must give full
consideration to all of the evidence presented relating to
subjective complaints, including the claimant's prior
work record, and ...