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Terry v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

November 30, 2017

NANCY A. BERRYHILL, [1]Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.



         Pending is Plaintiff's appeal of the Commissioner of Social Security's final decision denying his applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income. For the following reasons, the Commissioner's decision is affirmed.


         The Court's review of the Commissioner's decision is limited to a determination whether the decision is “supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole. Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance but…enough that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the conclusion.” Andrews v. Colvin, 791 F.3d 923, 928 (8th Cir. 2015) (citations omitted). “As long as substantial evidence in the record supports the Commissioner's decision, we may not reverse it because substantial evidence exists in the record that would have supported a contrary outcome, or because we would have decided the case differently.” Cline v. Colvin, 771 F.3d 1098, 1102 (8th Cir. 2014) (citation omitted). Though advantageous to the Commissioner, this standard also requires the Court consider evidence that fairly detracts from the final decision. Anderson v. Astrue, 696 F.3d 790, 793 (8th Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). Substantial evidence means “more than a mere scintilla” of evidence; rather, it is relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Gragg v. Astrue, 615 F.3d 932, 938 (8th Cir. 2010).


         Plaintiff was born in 1991, and is a high school graduate. R. at 854. Plaintiff previously worked as a sandwich maker, pizza delivery driver, production assembler, and marking clerk. R. at 235-40, 878. Plaintiff applied for disability and disability insurance benefits as well as supplemental security income, alleging a disability onset date of June 24, 2013. R. at 10. Plaintiff's applications were denied, and he requested a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). R. 89-99. A hearing was held on December 11, 2015. R. at 850-880. In February 2016, ALJ Raymond Souza issued his decision, finding Plaintiff was not disabled. R. at 7-19.

         In rendering his decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: anxiety, depression, Asperger's syndrome, ADHD, PTSD, and personality disorder. R. at 12. The ALJ determined Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to:

[P]erform a full range of work at all exertional levels with the following nonexertional limitations: he should avoid all use of hazardous machinery and all exposure to unprotected heights; he is limited to simple work (defined in the DOT as SVP levels 1 and 2), routine tasks, and occasional changes in the work setting, with no strict production quotas as emphasis on a per shift rather than per hour basis, and only occasional interaction with the general public, coworkers, and supervisors.

R. at 14. Based upon the RFC and the vocational expert's (“VE”) testimony, the ALJ concluded Plaintiff could work as a linen room attendant, counter supply worker, and change house attendant.[2] R. at 18. Plaintiff appealed the ALJ's decision to the Appeals Council, which denied his appeal. R. at 1-4. Plaintiff now appeals to this Court.


         Plaintiff argues the ALJ's decision must be reversed because (1) the ALJ failed to consider whether Plaintiff met Listing 12.05C for intellectual disability, and (2) Plaintiff's RFC is not supported by the substantial evidence of the record.

         A. Listing 12.05C

         Plaintiff argues the ALJ failed to consider whether he met Listing 12.05C for intellectual disability, and argues he meets this listing. When determining whether a claimant is disabled, the ALJ employs a five-step process. Jones v. Astrue, 619 F.3d 963, 968 (8th Cir. 2010). Under step three, which is relevant to this Court's decision, the ALJ considers the severity of the claimant's impairment and whether the impairment meets or equals a listed impairment. Id. (quoting Kluesner v. Astrue, 607 F.3d 533, 537 (8th Cir. 2010)); 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(iii). “For a claimant to show that his impairment matches a listing, it must meet all of the specified medical criteria.” Id. at 969 (quoting Brown ex rel. Williams v. Barnhart, 388 F.3d 1150, 1152 (8th Cir. ...

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