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Minear v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Northern Division

March 28, 2018

LARENDA MARIE MINEAR, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          ABBIE CRITES-LEONI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Larenda Marie Minear 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.

         An Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found that, despite Minear's severe physical 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.

         This 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.

         For the following reasons, the decision of the Commissioner will be affirmed.

         I. Procedural History

         Minear filed applications for DIB and SSI on February 12, 2013, claiming that she became unable to work on January 9, 2013, because of lower back and hip pain. (Tr. 113-16, 393-03.) Minear was 40 years of age at the time of her alleged onset of disability. Id. Her claims were denied initially. (Tr. 29-41.) An initial administrative hearing was held on January 26, 2015. (Tr. 424.) The ALJ determined that a consultative orthopedic examination was necessary before he could render a decision. (Tr. 437-38.) Following a supplemental administrative hearing, Minear's claims were denied in a written opinion by an ALJ, dated September 25, 2015. (Tr. 16-28.) Minear 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 12, 2016. (Tr. 9-12.) Thus, the decision of the ALJ stands as the final decision of the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. '' 404.981, 416.1481.

         In the instant action, Minear first argues that the “RFC determination is unsupported by substantial evidence because the ALJ accorded inadequate weight to the supported opinions of treating physician Dr. Dymek.” (Doc. 19 at 1.) She next claims that the “ALJ's Step 5 finding is not supported by substantial evidence.” Id.

         II. The ALJ's Determination

         The ALJ first found that Minear met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2017, and did not engage in substantial gainful activity since January 9, 2013, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 18.)

         In addition, the ALJ concluded that Minear had the following severe impairments: asthma, osteoarthritis of the lumbar spine, and obesity. Id. The ALJ found that Minear did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments. (Tr. 20.)

         As to Minear'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 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a). The claimant can lift or carry 10 pounds occasionally. The claimant can stand for 15 minutes at a time, for up to 2 hours in an 8-hour workday. The claimant can walk for 1 hour a day for 20 minutes at a time. The claimant can sit for 1 hour at a time, for up to 6 hours in an 8-hour workday. The claimant can push or pull in the limits for lifting and carrying. The claimant can occasionally climb ladders, ropes, scaffolds, ramps and stairs. The claimant should not stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl. The claimant can continually balance. The claimant should not work at unprotected heights. In addition, the claimant would need to change positions occasionally within the limits already given.

(Tr. 20.)

         The ALJ found that Minear's allegations regarding the extent of her limitations were not entirely credible. (Tr. 24.) In determining Minear's RFC, the ALJ indicated that he was assigning “partial weight” to the opinions of treating physician Waclaw Dymek, M.D.; and “significant weight” to the opinions of consultative physician Kathrina Alexander, M.D. (Tr. 26.)

         The ALJ further found that Minear was unable to perform past relevant work, but was capable of performing other jobs existing in the national economy, such as document preparer, eyeglass polisher, and patcher. (Tr. 27-28.) The ALJ therefore concluded that Minear was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from January 9, 2013 through the date of the decision. (Tr. 28.)

         The ALJ's final decision reads as follows:

Based on the application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits filed on February 12, 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 February 12, 2013, the claimant is not disabled under section ...

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