United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
KYLE S. JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,  Acting Commissioner of Social Security Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
C. COLLINS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
an action under Title 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for judicial
review of the final decision of the Commissioner denying the
application of Kyle S. Johnson (“Plaintiff”) for
Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Titles
II and XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§
401, et seq. and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381, et
seq. Plaintiff has filed a brief in support of the
Complaint (Doc. 19), Defendant has filed a brief in support
of the Answer (Doc. 27), and Plaintiff has filed a Reply
(Doc. 25). The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of
the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to
Title 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) (Doc. 9).
filed his applications for DIB and SSI on March 28, 2013 (Tr.
227, 230). Plaintiff was initially denied on June 14, 2013,
and he filed a Request for Hearing before an Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”) on August 19, 2013 (Tr. 129-54,
164). After a hearing, by decision dated February 26, 2015,
the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled (Tr. 10-29). On May 11,
2016, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review (Tr. 1-4). As such, the ALJ's decision stands as
the final decision of the Commissioner.
DECISION OF THE ALJ
determined that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since August 4, 2011, the alleged onset date
(Tr. 16). The ALJ found Plaintiff has the severe impairments
of a learning disability (in mathematics, reading, and
written expression), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
(ADHD), impulse control disorder, and mood disorder, but that
no impairment or combination of impairments met or medically
equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20
C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (Id.).
considering the entire record, the ALJ determined Plaintiff
has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
perform a full range of work with the following
non-exertional limitations (Tr. 18). He is limited to simple,
routine, and repetitive tasks (Id.). He can have no
more than occasional (that is, up to one-third of the work
day) interactions with supervisors and coworkers and only
incidental contact with the general public (Id.). He
is capable of working in proximity to others, but not on
shared tasks (Id.). His work should not be
fast-paced or include production requirements, although he
can meet productivity standards spread out over a full
eight-hour workday (Id.). He should not work shifts
in excess of eight hours, and should be limited to jobs that
have infrequent changes in the work setting or work routines
with advance notice and preparation for any such changes
(Id.). The ALJ found Plaintiff has no past relevant
work (Tr. 23). The ALJ found that there are jobs that exist
in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff
can perform, including marker/labeler, weigher, and racker
(Tr. 24). Thus, the ALJ concluded that a finding of
“not disabled” was appropriate (Tr. 25).
Plaintiff appeals, arguing a lack of substantial evidence to
support the Commissioner's decision.
the Social Security Act, the Commissioner has established a
five-step process for determining whether a person is
disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920, 404.1529. “If
a claimant fails to meet the criteria at any step in the
evaluation of disability, the process ends and the claimant
is determined to be not disabled.” Goff v.
Barnhart, 421 F.3d 785, 790 (8th Cir. 2005) (quoting
Eichelberger v. Barnhart, 390 F.3d 584, 590-91 (8th
Cir. 2004)). In this sequential analysis, the claimant first
cannot be engaged in “substantial gainful
activity” to qualify for disability benefits. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 416.920(b), 404.1520(b). Second, the claimant
must have a severe impairment. 20 C.F.R. §§
416.920(c), 404.1520(c). The Social Security Act defines
“severe impairment” as “any impairment or
combination of impairments which significantly limits
[claimant's] physical or mental ability to do basic work
activities. . . .” Id. “‘The
sequential evaluation process may be terminated at step two
only when the claimant's impairment or combination of
impairments would have no more than a minimal impact on [his
or] her ability to work.'” Page v. Astrue,
484 F.3d 1040, 1043 (8th Cir. 2007) (quoting Caviness v.
Massanari, 250 F.3d 603, 605 (8th Cir. 2001), citing
Nguyen v. Chater, 75 F.3d 429, 430-31 (8th Cir.
the ALJ must determine whether the claimant has an impairment
which meets or equals one of the impairments listed in the
Regulations. 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(d), 404.1520(d).
If the claimant has one of, or the medical equivalent of,
these impairments, then the claimant is per se disabled
without consideration of the claimant's age, education,
or work history. Id.
the impairment must prevent the claimant from doing past
relevant work. 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(f),
404.1520(f). The burden rests with the claimant at this
fourth step to establish his or her RFC. Steed v.
Astrue, 524 F.3d 872, 874 n.3 (8th Cir. 2008)
(“Through step four of this analysis, the claimant has
the burden of showing that she is disabled.”). The ALJ
will review a claimant's RFC and the physical and mental
demands of the work the claimant has done in the past. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(f).
the severe impairment must prevent the claimant from doing
any other work. 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(g),
404.1520(g). At this fifth step of the sequential analysis,
the Commissioner has the burden of production to show
evidence of other jobs in the national economy that can be
performed by a person with the claimant's RFC.
Steed, 524 F.3d at 874 n.3. If the claimant meets
these standards, the ALJ will find the claimant to be
disabled. “The ultimate burden of persuasion to prove
disability, however, remains with the claimant.”
Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065, 1069 n.5 (8th Cir.
2000). See also Harris v. Barnhart, 356 F.3d 926,
931 n.2 (8th Cir. 2004) (citing 68 Fed. Reg. 51153, 51155
(Aug. 26, 2003)); Stormo v. Barnhart, 377 F.3d 801,
806 (8th Cir. 2004) (“The burden of persuasion to prove
disability and to demonstrate RFC remains on the claimant,
even when the burden of production shifts to the Commissioner
at step five.”). Even if a court finds that there is a
preponderance of the evidence against the ALJ's decision,
the decision must be affirmed if it is supported by
substantial evidence. Clark v. Heckler, 733 F.2d 65,
68 (8th Cir. 1984). “Substantial evidence is less than
a preponderance but is enough that a reasonable mind would
find it adequate to support the Commissioner's
conclusion.” Krogmeier v. Barnhart, 294 F.3d
1019, 1022 (8th Cir. 2002). See also Cox v. Astrue,
495 F.3d 614, 617 (8th Cir. 2007).
not the job of the district court to re-weigh the evidence or
review the factual record de novo. Cox, 495 F.3d at
617. Instead, the district court must simply determine
whether the quantity and quality of evidence is enough so
that a reasonable mind might find it adequate to support the
ALJ's conclusion. Davis v. Apfel, 239 F.3d 962,
966 (8th Cir. 2001) (citing McKinney v. Apfel, 228
F.3d 860, 863 (8th Cir. 2000)). Weighing the evidence is a
function of the ALJ, who is the fact-finder. Masterson v.
Barnhart, 363 F.3d 731, 736 (8th Cir. 2004). Thus, an
administrative decision which is supported by substantial
evidence is not subject to reversal merely because
substantial evidence may also support an opposite conclusion
or because the reviewing court would have decided
differently. Krogmeier, 294 F.3d at 1022.
determine whether the Commissioner's final decision is
supported by substantial evidence, the court is required to
review the ...