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Soest v. Berryhill

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

September 26, 2017

KENNETH SOEST, 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 Kenneth Soest's (“Soest”) application for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401, et seq. For the reasons set forth below, the decision of the Commissioner will be affirmed.

         I. Background

         Soest filed his disability application on October 3, 2011, alleging disability beginning on November 1, 2010. He claimed that the following conditions limited his ability to work: a knee replacement; a bad disc in his back; a sleep disorder; anxiety; and a hand “singe” (Tr. 225).[2] Soest stopped working as a carpenter in October 2010 after losing his job (Tr. 226).[3] Soest's application was initially denied on June 10, 2013 (Tr. 102), which he appealed. On July 10, 2014, the Appeals Council remanded the case to the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) in order to discuss and accord weight to the opinions of Soest's treating doctor, Hziz Doumit, M.D. regarding Soest's physical limitations (Tr. 97-98). On December 3, 2014, the ALJ again found that Soest was not disabled (Tr. 5-22). Soest appealed this decision, which was denied by the Appeals Council (Tr. 23-27). Thus, the most recent 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 Soest's unopposed recitations of the medical record relevant to this case, as set forth in his Medical Evidence on Record (Doc. 17 at 3-10), [4] along with Defendant's Statement of Additional Material Facts (Doc. 24-2). Together, these facts present a fair and accurate summary of the record, including the testimony at the evidentiary hearings. 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 ...

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