United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
NANNETTE A. BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
an action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for judicial review
of the Commissioner of Social Security's final decision
denying Michael Garamella's application for disability
insurance benefits and supplemental security income under the
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 416, 423 et
seq. Garamella alleged disability due to arthritis pain,
depression, degenerative disc disease, anxiety, panic
attacks, sleep apnea, antisocial behavior, and bulging discs.
(Tr. 186.) The parties have consented to the exercise of
authority by the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). [Doc. 9.]
asserts that the administrative law judge (ALJ) erred in his
evaluation of Garamella's credibility and in assigning
little weight to the opinions of Garamella's treating
providers. The Commissioner asserts that the ALJ's
decision is supported by substantial evidence in the record
as a whole and should be affirmed. The Court has reviewed the
parties' briefs and the entire administrative record,
including the hearing transcript and the medical evidence.
For the reasons set forth below, the Court will reverse and
remand the Commissioner's final decision.
Standard of Review
Social Security Act defines disability as an “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 has lasted or can
be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than
12 months.” 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i)(1)A),
standard of review is narrow. Pearsall v. Massanari,
274 F.3d 1211, 1217 (8th Cir. 2001). This Court reviews the
decision of the ALJ to determine whether the decision is
supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Substantial evidence is less than a
preponderance, but enough that a reasonable mind would find
adequate support for the ALJ's decision. Smith v.
Shalala, 31 F.3d 715, 717 (8th Cir. 1994). The Court
determines whether evidence is substantial by considering
evidence that detracts from the Commissioner's decision
as well as evidence that supports it. Cox v.
Barnhart, 471 F.3d 902, 906 (8th Cir. 2006). The Court
may not reverse just because substantial evidence exists that
would support a contrary outcome or because the Court would
have decided the case differently. Id. If, after
reviewing the record as a whole, the Court finds it possible
to draw two inconsistent positions from the evidence and one
of those positions represents the Commissioner's finding,
the Commissioner's decision must be affirmed.
Masterson v. Barnhart, 363 F.3d 731, 726 (8th Cir.
2004). The Court must affirm the Commissioner's decision
so long as it conforms to the law and is supported by
substantial evidence on the record as a whole. Collins ex
rel. Williams v. Barnhart, 335 F.3d 726, 729 (8th Cir.
found that Garamella had the severe impairments of
degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, osteoarthritis
of the knees, asthma, obstructive sleep apnea, type II
diabetes mellitus, obesity, schizophrenia, depression,
anxiety, and agoraphobia with panic. (Tr. 13.) The ALJ
determined that Garamella had the residual functional
capacity to perform light work with the following
limitations: (1) never climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds;
(2) occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop,
kneel, crouch, and crawl; (3) never work at unprotected
heights, with moving mechanical parts, be exposed to
humidity/wetness, dust, odors, fumes, and pulmonary
irritants, extreme cold and extreme heat. (Tr. 16-17.) The
ALJ found Garamella can perform simple, routine, repetitive
tasks in a work environment free of fast paced production
requirements involving only simple, work-related decisions
with only occasional work place changes. (Tr. 17.) He can
only have occasional contact with supervisors and coworkers,
but should never have contact with the general public. (Tr.
Opinions of Treating Providers
asserts that the ALJ erred because he gave little weight to
his treating providers' opinions. Garamella's primary
treating providers were board certified nurse practitioner
Brook Strickland and licensed clinical social worker Nancy
Social Security separates information sources into two main
groups: acceptable medical sources and other
sources. It then divides other sources into two
groups: medical sources and non-medical sources.
Acceptable medical sources include licensed physicians
(medical or osteopathic doctors) and licensed or certified
psychologists. According to Social Security regulations,
there are three major distinctions between acceptable medical
sources and the others: (1) Only acceptable medical sources
can provide evidence to establish the existence of a
medically determinable impairment, (2) only acceptable
medical sources can provide medical opinions, and (3) only
acceptable medical sources can be considered treating
Sloan v. Astrue, 499 F.3d 883, 888 (8th Cir. 2007)
(emphasis in original) (internal citations omitted). Medical
sources include nurse practitioners, physician assistants,
licensed clinical social workers, naturopaths, chiropractors,
audiologists, and therapists.” 20 C.F.R. §
416.913(d). “Information from these other
sources cannot establish the existence of a medically
determinable impairment. Instead, there must be evidence from
an “acceptable medical source” for this
purpose.” SSR 06-03P, 2006 WL 2329939. The parties do
not dispute the existence or type of Garamella's
medically determinable impairments.
from such other sources, [however], may be based on special
knowledge of the individual and may provide insight into the
severity of the impairment(s) and how it affects the
individual's ability to function. Id.; 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.913(d). “Evidence provided by ‘other
sources' must be considered by the ALJ; however, the ALJ
is permitted to discount such evidence if it is inconsistent
with the evidence in the record.” Lawson v.
Colvin, 807 F.3d 962, 967 (8th Cir. 2015); see also
Raney v. Barnhart, 396 F.3d 1007, 1010 (8th Cir. 2005)
(in determining what weight to give to other evidence, the
ALJ has more discretion and is ...