United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PATRICIA L. COHEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
McKendrick (Plaintiff) seeks review of the decision of the
Social Security Commissioner, Nancy Berryhill, denying his
application for Disability Insurance Benefits and
Supplemental Security Income under Titles II and XVI of the
Social Security Act. Because the Court finds that substantial
evidence supports the decision to deny benefits, the Court
affirms the denial of Plaintiff's application.
Background and Procedural History
2013, Plaintiff filed applications for Disability Insurance
Benefits and Supplemental Security Income. (Tr. 180-87,
188-93). Plaintiff, born on May 11, 1983, alleged disability
beginning October 3, 2008 as a result of a motor vehicle
accident. (Tr. 180-87, 188-93). The Social Security
Administration (SSA) denied Plaintiff's claims, and he
filed a timely request for a hearing before an administrative
law judge (ALJ). (Tr. 22-35). The SSA granted Plaintiff's
request for review, and an ALJ conducted a hearing on October
1, 2014. (Tr. 22). In a decision dated December 4, 2014, the
ALJ determined that Plaintiff “has not been under a
disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from
October 3, 2008, through the date of this decision[.]”
decision, the ALJ applied the five-step evaluation set forth
in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920 and found that
Plaintiff had the severe impairments of “status post
multiple fractures of the upper and lower extremities, status
post open reduction and internal fixation and fusions; right
knee quadriceplasty; arthroscopic debridement; left femoral
head avascular necrosis; and post traumatic
osteoarthritis.” (Tr. 24-25). The ALJ determined that
Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity (RFC) to:
Lift and/or carry up to 10 pounds frequently and up to 20
pounds occasionally; stand and/or walk for up to 2 hours out
of an 8-hour workday; and sit for up to 6 hours out of an
8-hour workday. He requires an ability to alternate between
sitting and standing at least every 30 minutes. He should
never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds and he should never
balance, kneel, crouch, or crawl, but he can occasionally
climb ramps and stairs and occasionally stoop. He can
frequently reach with his left extremity. He must avoid all
environmental exposure to extreme cold, wetness (as it
relates to weather conditions), excessive vibration,
operational control of moving machinery, unprotected heights,
and hazardous machinery.
(Tr. 26-32). Finally, the ALJ concluded: “[C]onsidering
Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and residual
functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant
numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff can
perform.” (Tr. 34).
requested review of the ALJ's decision and submitted
additional evidence to the SSA Appeals Council, which denied
Plaintiff's request for review. (Tr. 1-6). Plaintiff has
exhausted all administrative remedies, and the ALJ's
decision stands as the Commissioner's final decision.
Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07 (2000).
Standard of Review
must affirm an ALJ's decision if it is supported by
substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
“Substantial evidence ‘is less than a
preponderance, but enough so that a reasonable mind might
find it adequate to support the conclusion.'”
Cruze v. Chater, 85 F.3d 1320, 1323 (8th Cir. 1996)
(quoting Boerst v. Shalala, 2 F.3d 249, 250 (8th
Cir. 1993)). In determining whether the evidence is
substantial, a court considers evidence that both supports
and detracts from the Commissioner's decision.
Pate-Fires v. Astrue, 564 F.3d 935, 942 (8th Cir.
2009). However, a court “do[es] not reweigh the
evidence presented to the ALJ and [it] defer[s] to the
ALJ's determinations regarding the credibility of
testimony, as long as those determinations are supported by
good reason and substantial evidence.” Renstrom v.
Astrue, 680 F.3d 1057, 1064 (8th Cir. 2012) (quoting
Gonzales v. Barnhart, 465 F.3d 890, 894 (8th Cir.
after reviewing the record, the court finds it is possible to
draw two inconsistent positions from the evidence and one of
those positions represents the ALJ's findings, the court
must affirm the ALJ's decision.” Partee v.
Astrue, 638 F.3d 860, 863 (8th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Goff v. Barnhart, 421 F.3d 785, 789 (8th Cir.
2005)). The Eighth Circuit has repeatedly held that a court
should “defer heavily to the findings and
conclusions” of the Social Security Administration.
Hurd v. Astrue, 621 F.3d 734, 738 (8th Cir. 2010);
Howard v. Massanari, 255 F.3d 577, 581 (8th Cir.
claims that the ALJ erred in (1) failing to properly weigh
his treating physician's opinion; and (2) creating an RFC
determination that did not include all of Plaintiff's
limitations.(ECF No. 16). The Commissioner counters
that the ALJ properly (1) evaluated the medical opinion
evidence; and (2) formulated an RFC based on substantial
evidence. (ECF No. 21).