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MaCklin v. Berryhill

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

May 23, 2018

NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner of Operations, Social Security Administration Defendant.



         Robert Macklin brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's decision denying his application for disability insurance benefits. Because the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole, I will affirm the Commissioner's decision.


         On March 28, 2014, Macklin filed an application for disability insurance benefits pursuant to Title II, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401 et seq. (Tr. 248). He alleged an initial onset date of June 30, 2013. (Id.). Macklin's application was denied on initial consideration. (Tr. 177). He requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Macklin, accompanied by counsel, attended the hearing on May 12, 2016. (Tr. 34). The ALJ issued a decision denying Macklin's application on June 29, 2016. (Tr. 16). On June 15, 2017, the Appeals Council denied Macklin's request for review. (Tr. 1).

         Macklin filed the present appeal for judicial review, arguing that: 1) the ALJ's determination of Macklin's residual functional capacity was not supported by the medical evidence of record; 2) the ALJ did not properly weigh a finding of disability made by the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA); and 3) the ALJ failed to properly evaluate the credibility of Macklin's testimony. (Doc. 15 at 6, 10, 11). In response, the Commissioner argues that the ALJ's RFC determination was properly formed, that he properly evaluated the VA's determination of disability, and that he properly evaluated plaintiff's credibility in light of the record as a whole. (Doc. 20 at 5, 11, 8).

         Administrative Record

         For evidentiary purposes, I have considered Macklin's Statement of Uncontroverted Material Facts (Doc. 16). The Commissioner generally objects to the admission of Macklin's facts on the grounds that they offer evidence outside the relevant time period in this appeal, which is the alleged onset date of June 30, 2013, though the date last insured of September 30, 2013. (Doc. 20, Ex. 1). Because I ultimately affirm the Commissioner's decision as supported by substantial evidence, I have adopted Macklin's Statement. I also adopt the Commissioner's Statement of Additional Facts (Doc. 20, Ex. 2) as uncontroverted by Macklin. These statements provide a fair and accurate description of the relevant record before me. I will highlight specific facts as needed in addressing the parties' arguments.

         ALJ Decision

         The ALJ first found that Macklin met the insured-status requirements of the Social Security Act through September 30, 2013. (Tr. 18). He found that Macklin had not engaged in substantial gainful activity from his alleged onset date of June 30, 2013. (Id.). He also found that Macklin suffers from the following severe impairments: “hypertension, osteoarthritis, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder and impulse control disorder, not otherwise specified.” (Id.). The ALJ found Macklin's alcohol abuse to be non-severe. (Tr. 19). The ALJ found that this combination of severe impairments did not equate to one of the listings denominated in 20 CFR 404, Subpt. P, App. 1. (Id.).

         After evaluating Macklin's claims, the medical opinion evidence, and the medical evidence of record, the ALJ determined that Macklin retained the residual functioning capacity (RFC) to perform the following tasks:

[Lift]/carry 10 pounds frequently and 20 pounds occasionally, sit for about 6 hours of an 8-hour workday and walk/stand for about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday, with normal breaks. The claimant can never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds, but can occasionally climb ramps or stairs. He can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl. He can have occasional exposure to extreme cold, extreme heat, wetness, humidity, excessive noise, operational control of a motor vehicle and irritants such as fumes, odors, dust, gases and poorly ventilated areas. He can have no exposure to excessive vibration, unprotected heights and hazardous machinery. He can perform simple, routine tasks in a low-stress job, defined as having only occasional decision-making and only occasional changes in work setting. He can perform work with no production quota. He can perform work that requires only occasional interaction with the general public, co-workers and supervisors.

(Tr. 20).

         Based on this RFC determination, the ALJ found that Macklin was no longer able to perform his past relevant work. (Tr. 25). The ALJ consulted a vocational expert (VE) to assess whether jobs within Macklin's RFC existed in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 25-26). The VE identified the jobs of garment sorter, work ticket distributor, and checker 1; she further identified these jobs as light unskilled work within Macklin's RFC. Finally, the VE identified 217, 500 garment sorter jobs, 297, 050 work ticket distributor jobs, and 59, 430 checker 1 jobs in the national economy. (Tr. 26). The ALJ therefore determined that plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. (Id.).

         LEGAL ...

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