United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
SCARLOTTE A. PASHIA, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
CRITES-LEONI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Scarlotte A. Pashia brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), seeking judicial review of the Social Security
Administration Commissioner's denial of her application
for a Period of Disability and Disability Insurance Benefits
under Title II of the Social Security Act.
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found that,
despite Pashia's severe physical and mental impairments,
she was not disabled as she had the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform jobs that exist in
significant numbers in the national economy.
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.
following reasons, the decision of the Commissioner will be
reversed and remanded.
filed an application for benefits under Title II on February
1, 2013, claiming that she became unable to work on January
31, 2013, because of bipolar disorder, seizures, depression,
diabetic neuropathy, right knee problems, diabetes, and high
blood pressure. (Tr. 158-64, 209.) Pashia's claim was
denied initially. (Tr. 99-103.) Following an administrative
hearing, Pashia's claim was denied in a written opinion
by an ALJ, dated March 16, 2015. (Tr. 15-28.) Pashia 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 June 3, 2016. (Tr. 1-5.) Thus, the
decision of the ALJ stands as the final decision of the
Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. '' 404.981,
instant action, Pashia argues that the ALJ “failed to
properly weigh the medical evidence and failed to properly
determine Ms. Pashia's mental residual functional
capacity.” (Doc. 9 at 9.) Pashia next contends that the
ALJ “failed to properly evaluate Ms. Pashia's
credibility.” Id. at 13. Finally, she argues
that the ALJ “relied on flawed vocational expert
testimony.” Id. at 15.
The ALJ's Determination
found that Pashia meets the insured status requirements of
the Social Security Act through December 31, 2017, and has
not engaged in substantial gainful activity since her alleged
onset date of January 31, 2013. (Tr. 17.)
addition, the ALJ concluded that Pashia had the following
severe impairments: obesity, diabetes mellitus, peripheral
neuropathy, osteoarthritis of the right knee, chondromalacia
in both knees, and bipolar disorder. Id. The ALJ
found that Pashia did not have an impairment or combination
of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments. (Tr. 18.)
Pashia's RFC, the ALJ stated:
After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that
the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform
sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a), except the
claimant can perform no climbing of stairs, ladders, ropes,
or scaffolds, cannot perform work at unprotected heights, can
endure no concentrated exposure to hazards of machinery in
the workplace, and can have no more than rare contact with
the public or coworkers. The claimant is limited to no more
than occasional changes in the workplace routine.
found that Pashia's allegations regarding the extent of
her limitations were not credible. (Tr. 26.) In determining
Pashia's mental RFC, the ALJ indicated that she was
assigning “little weight” to the opinions of
treating psychiatrist Heather Hill, M.D. (Tr. 25-26.)
further found that Pashia was unable to perform past relevant
work, but was capable of performing other jobs existing in
the national economy, such as patcher, and touch-up screener.
(Tr. 27.) The ALJ therefore concluded that Pashia has not
been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security
Act, from January 31, 2013, through the date of the decision.
ALJ's final decision reads as follows:
Based on the application for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits protectively filed on February
1, 2013, the claimant is not disabled under sections 216(i)
and 223(d) of the Social Security Act.
A. Standard of Review
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).
determine whether the Commissioner's decision is
supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole,
the Court must review the entire administrative record and
1. The credibility findings made by the ALJ.
2. The plaintiff's vocational factors.
3. The medical evidence from treating and consulting
4. The plaintiff's subjective complaints relating to
exertional and non-exertional ...