United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
CRITES-LEONI, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Vincent John Heintz brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), seeking judicial review of the Social Security
Administration Commissioner's denial of his 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 Heintz's severe physical and mental impairments,
he was not disabled as he 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
protectively filed applications for DIB and SSI on December
4, 2015, claiming that he became unable to work on September
1, 2015, because of a right knee replacement, left knee pain,
back problems, neck problems, and depression. (Tr. 79.)
Heintz was 43 years of age on his alleged onset of disability
date. Id. His claims were denied initially. (Tr.
99-104.) Following an administrative hearing, Heintz's
claims were denied in a written opinion by an ALJ, dated
September 21, 2016. (Tr. 16-25.) Heintz 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 October 4, 2016. (Tr. 12, 1-5.) Thus, the decision of the
ALJ stands as the final decision of the Commissioner.
See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481.
instant action, Heintz first argues that he "meets or
medically equals the Listing at § 1.03 of 20 C.F.R. Part
404, Subpart P, Appendix 1." (Doc. 16 at 11.) He next
claims that the ALJ "did not fulfill her duty to develop
the medical record, which duty exists whether or not a
claimant is represented." Id. at 13. Finally,
Heintz argues that the ALJ "failed to analyze plaintiffs
credibility consistent with applicable law and SSA's own
rules and regulations." Id. at 15.
The ALJ's Determination
first noted that Heintz met the insured status requirements
of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2017, and has
not engaged in substantial gainful activity since September
1, 2015, his alleged onset date. (Tr. 18.)
addition, the ALJ concluded that Heintz had the following
severe impairments: status-post right total knee replacement,
bilateral osteoarthritis of the knees, sleep apnea, obesity,
and hypertension with edema. (Tr. 18.) The ALJ found that
Heintz did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments. Id.
Heintz'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 sedentary work as defined in
20CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) except: lift, carry, push
and pull 10 pounds frequently and less than 10 pounds
frequently; sit a total of six hours in an eight-hour
workday; stand and walk two hours total in an eight-hour
workday; and never operate foot controls bilaterally. The
claimant would need to elevate his legs up to 18 inches while
sitting and require a stick, cane or other assistive device
for ambulation while at his workstation. The claimant can no
more than occasionally climb ramps and stairs; never climb
ropes, ladders and scaffolds; never kneel or crawl; no more
than occasionally stoop or crouch; and never work at
unprotected heights or with or around hazardous machinery.
found that Heintz's allegations regarding the extent of
his limitations were not entirely credible. (Tr. 22.) In
determining Heintz's RFC, the ALJ indicated that she was
assigning "great weight" to the opinions of
treating physician Sunny Desai, M.D. (Tr. 21.)
further found that Heintz was unable to perform past relevant
work, but was capable of performing other jobs existing in
the national economy, such as addresser, document preparer,
and press clipping cutter/paster. (Tr. 24-25.) The ALJ
therefore concluded that Heintz was not under a disability,
as defined in the Social Security Act, from September 1, 2015
through the date of the decision. (Tr. 25.)
ALJ's final decision reads as follows:
Based on the application for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits protectively filed on December
4, 2015, 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 December 4, 2015, 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 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 ...