United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CATHERINE D. PERRY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Amber Harlan brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1381 et seq. and 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and
1383(c)(3) seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's
decision denying her application for supplemental security
income. Because the Commissioner's final decision is
supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole, I
will affirm the decision of the Commissioner.
alleged she became disabled beginning January 27, 2015,
because of bipolar and anxiety disorders, degenerative and
herniated disc disease, osteoarthritis, diabetes,
hypothyroidism, migraines, and obesity.
application was initially denied on April 29, 2015. After a
hearing before an ALJ on October 14, 2015, the ALJ issued a
decision denying benefits on December 4, 2015. On March 9,
2016, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for
review. The ALJ's decision is thus the final decision of
the Commissioner. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
action for judicial review, Harlan contends that the
ALJ's decision is not supported by substantial evidence
on the record as a whole. Harlan specifically argues that the
ALJ erred by according improper weight to certain opinion
evidence in this case and improperly assessed her
credibility. Harlan asks that I reverse the
Commissioner's final decision and remand the matter for
further evaluation. For the reasons that follow, I will
affirm the Commissioner's decision.
Records and Other Evidence Before the ALJ
respect to the medical records and other evidence of record,
I adopt Harlan's recitation of facts set forth in her
Statement of Uncontroverted Material Facts (ECF #22-1) to the
extent they are admitted by the Commissioner (ECF #27-1). I
also adopt the additional facts set forth in the
Commissioner's Statement of Additional Material Facts
(ECF #27-2), as they are unrefuted by Harlan. Together, these
statements provide a fair and accurate description of the
relevant record before the Court.
specific facts will be discussed as needed to address the
eligible for disability insurance benefits under the Social
Security Act, Harlan must prove that she is disabled.
Pearsall v. Massanari, 274 F.3d 1211, 1217 (8th Cir.
2001); Baker v. Secretary of Health & Human
Servs., 955 F.2d 552, 555 (8th Cir. 1992). The Social
Security Act defines disability as the “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 which has lasted or can
be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than
12 months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). An
individual will be declared disabled “only if [her]
physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such
severity that [she] is not only unable to do [her] previous
work but cannot, considering [her] age, education, and work
experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful
work which exists in the national economy.” 42 U.S.C.
determine whether a claimant is disabled, the Commissioner
engages in a five-step evaluation process. See 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520; Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S.
137, 140-42 (1987). The Commissioner begins by deciding
whether the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful
activity. If the claimant is working, disability benefits are
denied. Next, the Commissioner decides whether the claimant
has a “severe” impairment or combination of
impairments, meaning that which significantly limits her
ability to do basic work activities. If the claimant's
impairment(s) is not severe, then she is not disabled. The
Commissioner then determines whether claimant's
impairment(s) meets or equals one of the impairments listed
in 20 C.F.R., Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. If
claimant's impairment(s) is equivalent to one of the
listed impairments, she is conclusively disabled. At the
fourth step, the Commissioner establishes whether the
claimant can perform her past relevant work. If so, the
claimant is not disabled. Finally, the Commissioner evaluates
various factors to determine whether the claimant is capable
of performing any other work in the economy. If not, the
claimant is declared disabled and becomes entitled to
affirm the Commissioner's decision 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 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). Determining
whether there is substantial evidence requires scrutinizing
analysis. Coleman v. Astrue, 498 F.3d 767, 770 (8th
consider evidence that supports the Commissioner's
decision as well as any evidence that fairly detracts from
the decision. McNamara v. Astrue, 590 F.3d 607, 610
(8th Cir. 2010). If, after reviewing the entire record, it is
possible to draw two inconsistent positions and the
Commissioner has adopted one of those positions, I must
affirm the Commissioner's decision. Anderson v.
Astrue, 696 F.3d 790, 793 (8th Cir. 2012). I may not
reverse the ...