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Swain v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

May 17, 2017

TIMOTHY SWAIN, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, [1] Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JOHN A. ROSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This is an action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for judicial review of the Commissioner of Social Security's final decision denying Timothy Swain's (“Swain”) application for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401, et seq.

         I. Background

         Swain filed an application for disability insurance benefits on March 23, 2011, alleging disability as of April 10, 2010, as a result of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. After his application was denied at the initial administrative level, he requested a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). Following a hearing on November 29, 2012, the ALJ issued a written decision on January 14, 2013, denying his application. Swain's request for review by the Appeals Council was granted and the case was remanded on January 9, 2014. The Appeals Council generally directed that further consideration be given to Swain's maximum residual functional capacity (“RFC”), and in doing so, that treating medical source opinion be evaluated and an explanation be made for the weight given to that opinion evidence; vocational expert evidence was directed as needed (Tr. 15). A second hearing was held on June 16, 2014. On August 14, 2014, the ALJ found Swain had the RFC to perform certain jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy, and was thus not disabled under the Act. Swain filed a request for review by the Appeals Council on September 15, 2014. The Appeal Council denied the request on January 14, 2016. Thus, the decision of the ALJ stands as the final decision of the Commissioner. See Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 107 (2000).

         II. Facts

         The Court adopts Swain's Statement of Facts (Doc. No. 13-1) and Defendant's Statement of Additional Facts (Doc. No. 18-2). The Court's review of the record shows that the adopted facts are accurate and complete. Specific facts will be discussed as part of the analysis.

         III. Standards

         The court's role on judicial review is to determine whether the ALJ's findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole. Johnson v. Astrue, 628 F.3d 991, 992 (8th Cir. 2009). “Substantial evidence is that which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Id. (citations omitted). The court may not reverse merely because substantial evidence exists in the record that would support a contrary outcome or because the court would have decided the case differently. See Krogmeier v. Barnhart, 294 F.3d 1019, 1022 (8th Cir. 2002).

         To determine whether the ALJ's final decision is supported by substantial evidence, the Court is required to review the administrative record as a whole and to consider:

(1) The findings of credibility made by the ALJ;
(2) The education, background, work history, and age of the claimant;
(3) The medical evidence given by the claimant's treating physicians;
(4) The subjective complaints of pain and description of the claimant's physical activity and impairment;
(5) The corroboration by third parties of the claimant's physical impairment;
(6) The testimony of vocational experts based upon prior hypothetical questions which fairly set forth the ...

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