United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CATHERINE D. PERRY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
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
(DIB) under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 401-434, and supplemental security income
pursuant to Title XVI, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381 et
seq. Because the Commissioner's final decision is
not supported by substantial evidence on the record as a
whole, I will reverse the decision of the Commissioner and
remand for further proceedings consistent with this
Memorandum and Order.
alleged he became disabled beginning January 1, 2016, because
of Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, depression, joint
pain, and social anxiety.
application was initially denied on April 28, 2016. After a
hearing before an ALJ on October 3, 2016, the ALJ issued a
decision denying benefits on December 21, 2016. On March 9,
2017, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for
review. The ALJ's decision is thus the final decision of
the Commissioner. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
action for judicial review, plaintiff contends that the ALJ
erred in her assessment of his residual functional capacity
(RFC) and failed to properly evaluate the opinion of his
treating physician. Plaintiff asks that I reverse the
Commissioner's final decision and remand the matter for
further evaluation. For the reasons that follow, I will
reverse the Commissioner's decision.
Records and Other Evidence Before the ALJ
respect to the medical records and other evidence of record,
I adopt plaintiff's recitation of facts set forth in her
Statement of Material Facts (ECF #15) as they are admitted by
the Commissioner (ECF #20-1). I also adopt the additional
facts set forth in the Commissioner's Statement of
Additional Material Facts (ECF #20-2), as they are unrefuted
by plaintiff. Together, these statements provide a fair and
accurate description of the relevant record before the Court.
specific facts will be discussed as needed to address the
eligible for disability insurance benefits under the Social
Security Act, plaintiff must prove that he is disabled.
Pearsall v. Massanari, 274 F.3d 1211, 1217 (8th Cir.
2001); Baker v. Secretary of Health & Human
Servs., 955 F.2d 552, 555 (8th Cir. 1992). The Social
Security Act defines disability as the “inability to
engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any
medically determinable physical or mental impairment which
can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can
be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than
12 months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). An
individual will be declared disabled “only if [his]
physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such
severity that [he] is not only unable to do [his] previous
work but cannot, considering [his] age, education, and work
experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful
work which exists in the national economy.” 42 U.S.C.
determine whether a claimant is disabled, the Commissioner
engages in a five-step evaluation process. See 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520; Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S.
137, 140-42 (1987). The Commissioner begins by deciding
whether the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful
activity. If the claimant is working, disability benefits are
denied. Next, the Commissioner decides whether the claimant
has a “severe” impairment or combination of
impairments, meaning that which significantly limits his
ability to do basic work activities. If the claimant's
impairment(s) is not severe, then he is not disabled. The
Commissioner then determines whether claimant's
impairment(s) meets or equals one of the impairments listed
in 20 C.F.R., Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. If
claimant's impairment(s) is equivalent to one of the
listed impairments, he is conclusively disabled. At the
fourth step, the Commissioner establishes whether the
claimant can perform his past relevant work. If so, the
claimant is not disabled. Finally, the Commissioner evaluates
various factors to determine whether the claimant is capable
of performing any other work in the economy. If not, the
claimant is declared disabled and becomes entitled to
affirm the Commissioner's decision 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 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). Determining