United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
NANNETTE A. BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Laura Edwards'
(“Edwards”) appeal regarding the denial of
disability insurance benefits and supplemental security
income under the Social Security Act. The Court has
jurisdiction over the subject matter of this action under 42
U.S.C. § 405(g). The parties have consented to the
exercise of authority by the United States Magistrate Judge
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). [Doc. 7.] The Court has
reviewed the parties' briefs and the entire
administrative record, including the transcript and medical
evidence. Based on the following, the Court will affirm the
April 4, 2013, Edwards applied for a period of disability,
disability insurance benefits, and supplemental security
income, alleging disability since February 16, 2013. (Tr.
183-192.) The Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) denied Edwards' claim and she filed a
timely request for hearing before an administrative law judge
(“ALJ”). (Tr. 123-27, 130-31.) The SSA granted
Edwards' request for review, and an administrative
hearing was held on January 21, 2015. (Tr. 58-86, 133-40.)
Edwards, represented by a non-attorney representative,
testified at the hearing. (Tr. 58-86, 128.) Vocational expert
(“VE”), Carly Coughlin (“Coughlin”),
also testified at the hearing. (Tr. 58-86.)
January 29, 2015, the ALJ found Edwards not disabled as
defined in the Society Security Act. (Tr. 11-23.) Edwards
requested a review of the ALJ's decision from the Appeals
Council. (Tr. 7.) On April 22, 2016, the Appeals Counsel of
the Social Security Administration denied Edwards'
request for review. (Tr. 1-6.) The decision of the ALJ thus
stands as the final decision of the Commissioner. See
Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 107 (2000). Edwards filed
this appeal on June 22, 2016. [Doc 1.] The Commissioner filed
an Answer and the certified Administrative Transcript on
August 26, 2016. [Doc. 11, 12.] Edwards filed a Brief in
Support of the Complaint on September 26, 2016. [Doc. 13.]
The Commissioner filed a Brief in Support of the Answer on
December 22, 2016. [Doc. 18.] Edwards then filed a Reply
Brief on January 5, 2017. [Doc. 19.]
Standard of Review
Social Security Act defines disability as an “inability
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 has lasted or can
be expected to last for continuous period of not less than 12
months.” 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i)1)A),
uses a five-step analysis to determine whether a claimant
seeking disability benefits is in fact disabled. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(1), 416.920(a)(1). First, the
claimant must not be engaged in substantial gainful activity.
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i), 416.920(a)(4)(i).
the claimant must establish that he or she has an impairment
or combination of impairments that significantly limits his
or her ability to perform basic work activities and meets the
durational requirements of the Act. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(ii), 416.920(a)(4)(ii). Third, the claimant
must establish that his or her impairment meets or equals an
impairment listed in the appendix of the applicable
regulations. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iii),
416.920(a)(4)(iii). If the claimant's impairments do not
meet or equal a listed impairment, the SSA determines the
claimant's Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”) to perform past relevant work. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(e) 416.920(e).
the claimant must establish that the impairment prevents him
or her from doing past relevant work. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(iv), 416.920(a)(4)(iv). If the claimant meets
this burden, the analysis proceeds to step five. At step
five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to establish the
claimant maintains the RFC to perform a significant number of
jobs in the national economy. Singh v. Apfel, 222
F.3d 448, 451 (8th Cir. 2000). If the claimant satisfied all
of the criteria under the five-step evaluation, the ALJ will
find the claimant to be disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§
standard of review is narrow. Pearsall v. Massanari,
274 F.3d 1211, 1217 (8th Cir. 2001). This Court reviews the
decision of the ALJ to determine whether the decision is
supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Substantial evidence is less than a
preponderance, but enough that a reasonable mind would find
adequate support for the ALJ's decision. Smith v.
Shalala, 31 F.3d 715, 717 (8th Cir. 1994). The court
determines whether evidence is substantial by considering
evidence that detracts from the Commissioner's decision
as well as evidence that supports it. Cox v.
Barnhart, 471 F.3d 902, 906 (8th Cir. 2006). The Court
may not reverse just because substantial evidence exists that
would support a contrary outcome or because the Court would
have decided the case differently. Id. If, after
reviewing the record as a whole, the Court finds it possible
to draw two inconsistent positions from the evidence and one
of those positions represents the Commissioner's finding,
the Commissioner's decision must be affirmed.
Masterson v. Barnhart, 363 F.3d 731, 726 (8th Cir.
determine whether the ALJ's final decision is supported
by substantial evidence, the Court is required to review the
administrative record as a whole to consider:
(1) The findings of credibility made by the ALJ;
(2) The education, background, work history, and age of the
(3) The medical evidence given by the claimant's treating
(4) The subjective complaints of pain and description of the
claimant's physical impairment;
(5) The corroboration by third parties of the claimant's
(6) The testimony of vocational experts based upon prior
hypothetical questions which fairly set forth the
claimant's physical impairment; and
(7) The testimony of consulting physicians.
Brand. V. Sec'y of Dept. of Health, Educ. &
Welfare, 623 F.2d 523, 527 (8th Cir. 1980).
determined that Edwards met the insured status requirements
of the Social Security Act through March 31, 2017, and had
not engaged in substantial gainful activity since February
16, 2013. (Tr. 13.) The ALJ found that Edwards had the
following severe impairments: peripheral vascular disease,
fibromyalgia, and intellectual disability. (Tr. 13.) The ALJ
also found that Edwards did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the
severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part
404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 14.) The ALJ determined that
Edwards' mental impairments did not specifically meet the
initial requirements for Listing 12.05C. (Tr. 15.) Although
Edwards obtained a full scale IQ score of 66 on the Wechsler
Adult Intelligence Scale- Fourth Edition
(“WAIS-IV”),  this was taken “well after”
the age of 22. (Tr. 15.) The ALJ also discussed Edwards'
school records. While testing placed her at low-average range
of cognitive and intellectual functioning, there was some
question as to whether Edwards worked to her full abilities
as a student. (Tr. 15.) Lastly, the ALJ reasoned that the
evidence failed to show that Edwards had deficits in adaptive
functioning. (Tr. 15.) Although Edwards' earnings record
is not strong, the ALJ cited that she did earn $11, 000 in
2010 as a dietary aide. She also can bathe, change her
clothes, brush her teeth daily, and go to the grocery store.
also found that Edwards had the RFC to perform sedentary work
with the following limitations: that she cannot work on
scaffolds and must avoid all dangerous activities; she cannot
ambulate on unimproved terrain; she is limited to simple or
repetitive work; she should avoid close interaction with the
public; she should avoid jobs that require more than simple
interaction with supervisors; and she should avoid jobs that
require teamwork with co-workers. (Tr. 16.) The ALJ found
Edwards' testimony about her symptoms not entirely
credible. He found that her medical records failed to reveal
persistent, severe symptoms that would preclude her from
working. (Tr. 18.) The ALJ determined that Edwards was not
under a disability within the meaning of the Social Security
Act from February 16, 2013, through the date of the decision.
following is a summary of relevant evidence before the ALJ:
heard testimony from Edwards and Carly Coughlin, the VE.
Edwards was represented by a non-attorney representative.
(Tr. 58-86, 128.)