Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

O'Grady v. Berryhill

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

June 29, 2018

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



         This action is before this Court for judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security finding that Plaintiff Jennifer O'Grady was not disabled, and thus not entitled to disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434. For the reasons set forth below, the decision of the Commissioner will be reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings.


         Plaintiff, who was born on December 8, 1975, filed her application for disability insurance benefits on February 19, 2014 (at the age of 37), alleging disability as of August 5, 2013, due to anxiety, agoraphobia, depression, and migraine headaches. After Plaintiff's application was denied at the initial administrative level, a hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) on January 26, 2018, at which Petitioner and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. By decision dated April 27, 2016, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform the full range of work at all exertional levels with certain nonexertional limitations. Plaintiff's request for review by the Appeals Council of the Social Security Administration was denied on June 2, 2017. Plaintiff has thus exhausted all administrative remedies and the ALJ's decision stands as the final agency action now under review.

         Plaintiff argues that the ALJ's RFC determination is not supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole. More specifically, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in rejecting the opinion of Plaintiff's treating psychologist, Katie Boyd, Psy.D., an opinion that supported Plaintiff's testimony of an inability to leave her house most days; failing to explain the weight given to the opinion of an examining consulting psychologist, Lisa McGrath, Ph.D.; and giving significant weight to the opinion of a non-examining consulting psychologist, Mark Altomari, Ph.D. Plaintiff also argues that it can be seen from the treatment notes of Plaintiff's treating psychiatrist, Jyothi Mandava, M.D., that Plaintiff cannot engage in even simple work on a regular basis in the workplace. Plaintiff asks that the decision of the ALJ be reversed and benefits be awarded, or in the alternative that the matter be remanded for further proceedings.

         Defendant argues that the ALJ's decision is supported by substantial evidence, including medical opinion evidence that the ALJ properly weighed, Plaintiff's daily activities, “the relatively benign clinical observations in the record, ” and Plaintiff's receipt of “conservative treatment.” ECF No. 20.

         Agency Records, Medical Records, and ALJ's Decision

         The Court adopts the facts set forth in Plaintiff's Statement of Uncontroverted Facts (ECF No. 15-1), Defendant's Statement of Additional Material Facts (ECF No. 20-2), and Plaintiff's Supplemental Statement of Uncontroverted Material Facts (ECF No. 21-1). Together, these facts provide a fair description of the record before the Court. Specific facts will be discussed as needed to address the parties' arguments.


         Standard of Review and Statutory Framework

         In reviewing the denial of Social Security disability benefits, a court must review the entire administrative record to determine whether the ALJ's findings are supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole. Johnson v. Astrue, 628 F.3d 991, 992 (8th Cir. 2011). The court “may not reverse . . . merely because substantial evidence would support a contrary outcome. Substantial evidence is that which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Id. (citations omitted). A reviewing court “must consider evidence that both supports and detracts from the ALJ's decision. If, after review, [the court finds] it possible to draw two inconsistent positions from the evidence and one of those positions represents the Commissioner's findings, [the court] must affirm the decision of the Commissioner.” Chaney v. Colvin, 812 F.3d 672, 676 (8th Cir. 2016).

         To be entitled to benefits, a claimant must demonstrate an inability to engage in substantial gainful activity which exists in the national economy, by reason of a medically determinable impairment which has lasted or can be expected to last for not less than 12 months. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). The Commissioner has promulgated regulations, found at 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520, establishing a five-step sequential evaluation process to determine disability. The Commissioner begins by deciding whether the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful activity. If not, the Commissioner decides whether the claimant has a severe impairment or combination of impairments. If an impairment or combination of impairments is severe and meets the duration requirement, the Commissioner determines at step three whether the claimant's impairment meets or is equal to one of the deemed-disabling impairments listed in the Commissioner's regulations. If not, the Commissioner asks at step four whether the claimant has the RFC to perform her past relevant work.

         If the claimant cannot perform her past relevant work, the burden of proof shifts at step five to the Commissioner to demonstrate that the claimant retains the RFC to perform work that is available in the national economy and that is consistent with the claimant's vocational factors - age, education, and work experience. Halverson v. Astrue, 600 F.3d 922, 929 (8th Cir. 2010). When a claimant's nonexertional impairments significantly limit the claimant's RFC to perform the full range of work listed in the Commissioner's regulations, the ALJ must produce testimony by a VE, or other similar evidence, to meet the step-five burden. Id.

         The ALJ's ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.