United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MICHELE L. WRIGHT, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner of Operations, Social Security Administration, Defendant.
CRITES-LEONI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Michele L. Wright brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), seeking judicial review of the Social Security
Administration Commissioner's denial of her application
for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under
Title XVI of the Social Security Act.
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found that,
despite Wright's severe physical and mental impairments,
she was not disabled as she had the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform jobs that exist in
significant numbers in the national economy.
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.
following reasons, the decision of the Commissioner will be
reversed and remanded.
filed an application for benefits under Title XVI on August
28, 2012, claiming that she became unable to work on June 21,
2011,  because of a hernia, major depressive
disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder
(“PTSD”), schizoaffective disorder, high blood
pressure, and high cholesterol. (Tr. 409, 414.) Wright's
claim was denied initially. (Tr. 146.) Following two
administrative hearings, Wright's claim was denied in a
written opinion by an ALJ, dated April 24, 2014. (Tr.
122-38.) On December 23, 2015, the Appeals Council of the
Social Security Administration (SSA) granted review and
remanded the case to an ALJ for further development and
consideration. (Tr. 141-42.) On July 13, 2016, after a third
administrative hearing, a second ALJ found Wright was not
disabled. (Tr. 9-29.) The Appeals Council denied Wright's
request for review on August 13, 2017. (Tr. 1-4.) Thus, the
decision of the second ALJ stands as the final decision of
the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. §§
instant action, Wright argues that the ALJ erred “in
failing to weigh or articulate consideration of Dr.
Hampton's opinions.” (Doc. 14 at 8.) Wright next
contends that the ALJ erred in “failing to articulate
consideration of evidence of Plaintiff's inability to
maintain regular attendance, and in failing to weigh that
consistent aspect of all three treating source
opinions.” Id. at 11.
The ALJ's Determination
found that Wright has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since her application date of August 28, 2012. (Tr.
addition, the ALJ concluded that Wright had the following
severe impairments: obesity, a ventral hernia, anemia, mood
disorder, psychotic disorder/schizoaffective disorder, PTSD,
borderline intellectual functioning, alcohol abuse disorder,
and cannabis use disorder. (Tr. 15.) The ALJ found that
Wright did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments. Id.
Wright'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 a range of light work as
defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) in that she can lift, carry,
push, or pull 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds
frequently; sit for 6 hours total in an 8-hour workday;
stand or walk for 6 hours total in an 8-hour workday; never
climb ropes, ladders, or scaffolds; and occasionally climb
ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl.
The claimant is able to understand, remember, and carry out
simple instructions and non-detailed tasks; however, she
must have only minimal changes in job setting or duties; no
contact with the general public; only occasional contact
with coworkers and supervisors; and may not perform fast
paced production work.
found that Wright's allegations regarding the extent of
her limitations were not entirely consistent with the record.
(Tr. 22.) In determining Wright's mental RFC, the ALJ
indicated that she was assigning “little weight”
to the opinions of treating psychiatrist Daniel Murray, M.D.;
some weight to the opinion of nurse practitioner Laura Romer,
APRN; and great weight to the opinions of treating
psychiatrist Luigi Cardella, M.D., and state agency
psychologist James Spence, Ph.D. (Tr. 20-22.)
further found that Wright was unable to perform past relevant
work, but was capable of performing other jobs existing in
the national economy, such as cleaner, routing clerk, and
mail clerk. (Tr. 23.) The ALJ therefore concluded that Wright
has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social
Security Act, from August 28, 2012, through the date of the
decision. (Tr. 24.)
ALJ's final decision reads as follows:
Based on the application for supplemental security income
filed on August 28, 2012, the claimant is not disabled
under section 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social Security Act.
A. Standard of Review
decision of the Commissioner must be affirmed 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 of the evidence, 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). This “substantial evidence test, ”
however, is “more than a mere search of the record for
evidence supporting the Commissioner's findings.”
Coleman v. Astrue, 498 F.3d 767, 770 (8th Cir. 2007)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
“Substantial evidence on the record as a whole . . .
requires a more scrutinizing analysis.” Id.
(internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
determine whether the Commissioner's decision is
supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole,
the Court must review ...