United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
CRITES-LEONI, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
April Arford brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), seeking judicial review of the Social Security
Administration Commissioner's denial of her applications
for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under
Title II of the Social Security Act and Supplemental Security
Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Act.
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found that,
despite Arford's severe physical and mental impairments,
she was not disabled as she had the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform jobs that existed 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
filed applications for DIB and SSI on November 14, 2013,
claiming that she became unable to work on June 15, 2010,
because of polyneuropathy, muscle deterioration and nerve
damage, neck pain, hypertension, and depression. (Tr. 10,
290.) Arford was 32 years of age at the time she filed her
applications. Id. Her claims were denied initially.
(Tr. 160-66.) Following an administrative hearing,
Arford's claims were denied in a written opinion by an
ALJ, dated November 19, 2015. (Tr. 10-23.) Arford 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 September 13, 2016. (Tr. 5, 1-4.) Thus,
the decision of the ALJ stands as the final decision of the
Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981,
instant action, Arford first argues that “[s]ubstantial
evidence on the record as a whole does not support the
ALJ's finding that Arford can perform a wide range of
light work.” (Doc. 15 at 10.) She next claims that the
ALJ “impermissibly drew his own inferences from the
medical evidence.” Id. at 13.
The ALJ's Determination
first noted that Arford had previously applied for disability
benefits, and these applications were denied on December 11,
2012. (Tr. 10, 153-55.) The ALJ found no basis to reopen any
of these prior applications. (Tr. 10.) He next found that
Arford met the insured status requirements of the Social
Security Act through September 30, 2013, and did not engage
in substantial gainful activity since June 15, 2010, her
alleged onset date. (Tr. 12.)
addition, the ALJ concluded that Arford had the following
severe impairments: degenerative disc disease (DDD) of the
lumbar spine, status post fusion surgery at level L4-L5 in
2004; polyneuropathy; obesity; and depression. (Tr. 13.) The
ALJ found that Arford did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the
severity of one of the listed impairments. Id.
Arford's RFC, the ALJ stated:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform light work as that term is
defined in 20CFR404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) and SSR 83-10,
except that the following nonexertional limitations reduce
the claimant's capacity for light work; only occasionally
climb ladders, ropes and scaffolds or stoop; and limited to
jobs that involve understanding, remembering, and carrying
out only simple instructions, and that involve no more than
occasional contact with the public.
found that Arford's allegations regarding the extent of
her limitations were not entirely credible. (Tr. 16.) In
determining Arford's RFC, the ALJ indicated that he was
assigning “some weight” to the opinions of
consultative psychologist Hester B. Samuel, and neurosurgeon
Kee B. Park; and “substantial weight” to the
opinions of State agency medical consultants. (Tr. 20-21.)
further found that Arford was unable to perform past relevant
work, but was capable of performing other jobs existing in
the national economy, such as hospital products assembler,
bindery machine feeder, and final inspector. (Tr. 22-23.) The
ALJ therefore concluded that Arford was not under a
disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from June
15, 2010 through the date of the decision. (Tr. 23.)
ALJ's final decision reads as follows:
Based on the application for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits protectively filed on November
14, 2013, the claimant is not disabled under sections 216(i)
and 223(d) of the Social Security Act.
Based on the application for supplemental security income
protectively filed on November 14, 2013, the claimant is not
disabled under section 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social Security
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 ...