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Weber v. Berryhill

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

July 21, 2017

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

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          ABBIE CRITES-LEONI, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Curtis Weber brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of the Social Security Administration Commissioner's denial of his application for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act.

         An Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found that, despite Weber's severe impairments, he was not disabled as he had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy.

         This 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.

         For the following reasons, the decision of the Commissioner will be affirmed.

         I. Procedural History

         Weber filed his application for SSI on April 11, 2013. (Tr. 150-55.) He alleged that he became disabled on March 18, 2008, due to post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), back problems, knee problems, depression, and anxiety. (Tr. 170.) Weber's claims were denied initially. (Tr. 85.) Following an administrative hearing, Weber's claims were denied in a written opinion by an ALJ, dated September 12, 2014. (Tr. 10-21.) Weber 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 February 5, 2016. (Tr. 5, 1-4.) Thus, the decision of the ALJ stands as the final decision of the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. '' 404.981, 416.1481.

         In the instant action, Weber claims that the ALJ “erred in failing to properly support the RFC determination as required by SSR 96-8p and failing to properly develop the record regarding Weber's mental limitations.” (Doc. 15 at p. 7.)

         II. The ALJ's Determination

         The ALJ found that Weber had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since his application date of April 11, 2013. (Tr. 12.)

         In addition, the ALJ concluded that Weber had the following severe impairments: spine and bilateral hip dysfunction; major depressive disorder; anxiety disorder; and PTSD. Id. The ALJ found that Weber 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. (Tr. 13.)

         As to Weber's RFC, the ALJ stated:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 416.967(b) in that he can lift 20 pounds occasionally and lift/carry 10 pounds frequently; can stand and/or walk 6 hours out of an 8 hour workday; can sit 6 hours out of an 8 hour workday except he should avoid concentrated exposure to hazards, such as unprotected heights and being around dangerous, moving machinery. He can never climb ropes, ladders, or scaffolds. He can no more than occasionally climb on ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl. He can understand, remember, and carry out simple instructions, consistent with unskilled work, in a job where there are no strict production quotas and the individual would not be subject to the demands of fast-paced production work. In other words, work is by the shift and not by the hour. He can perform only simple decision-making related to basic work functions. He can tolerate only minor, infrequent changes in the workplace. He can have occasional contact with co-workers and supervisors but no contact with the general public.

(Tr. 15.)

         The ALJ found that Weber's allegations regarding his limitations were not entirely credible. (Tr. 16.) In determining Weber's RFC, the ALJ indicated that he was assigning “partial weight” to the opinion of consultative psychologist Jonathon D. Rosenboom; “little weight” to the opinion of state agency evaluator Mark Altomari, Ph.D.; and “significant weight” to the opinion of examining physician Jeff Semeyn, D.O. (Tr. 17-19.)

         The ALJ further found that Weber is unable to perform any past relevant work. (Tr. 19.) The ALJ noted that a vocational expert testified that Weber could perform jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy, such as small products assembler I, garment sorter, and folding machine operator. (Tr. 20.) The ALJ therefore concluded that Weber has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, since April 11, 2013, the date the application was filed. (Tr. 21.)

         The ALJ's final decision reads as follows:

Based on the application for supplemental security income filed on April 11, 2013, the claimant is not disabled under section 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social Security Act.

Id.

         III. Applicable Law

         III. A. Standard of Review

         The 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).

         To determine whether the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole, the Court must review ...


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