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Yates v. Berryhill

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

March 20, 2019

ROBERT P. YATES, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner of Operations, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          ABBIE CRITES-LEONI, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Robert P. Yates, Jr. brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of the Social Security Administration Commissioner's denial of his applications for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Act.

         An Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found that, despite Yates' severe physical and mental impairments, he was not disabled as he had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform work existing in significant numbers in the national economy.

         This 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.

         For the following reasons, the decision of the Commissioner will be affirmed.

         I. Procedural History

         Yates filed his applications for DIB and SSI on June 11, 2014, and June 30, 2014, respectively, claiming that he became unable to work on May 26, 2011.[1] (Tr. 215, 241.) In his Disability Report, he alleged disability due to bipolar disorder, chronic body pain, migraines, degenerative bone disease, acid reflux, thyroid problems, anemia, and arthritis. (Tr. 261.) Yates was 37 years of age at the time of his alleged onset of disability. His claims were denied initially. (Tr. 113-17.) Following an administrative hearing, Yates' claims were denied in a written opinion by an ALJ, dated September 27, 2016. (Tr. 12-24.) Yates then filed a request for review of the ALJ's decision with the Appeals Council of the Social Security Administration (SSA), which was denied on September 27, 2017. (Tr. 1-4.) Thus, the decision of the ALJ stands as the final decision of the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481.

         In this action, Yates argues that the ALJ “failed to give great weight to the consultative examiner that she hired post hearing.” (Doc. 19 at p. 7.)

         II. The ALJ's Determination

         The ALJ first found that Yates met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2016. (Tr. 14.) He further found that Yates has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 26, 2011, the alleged onset date. Id. In addition, the ALJ concluded that Yates had the following severe impairments: lumbar spondylosis, migraines/chronic headaches, bipolar affective disorder, dissociative identity disorder, [2] insomnia, and vertigo. Id. The ALJ found that Yates did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments. (Tr. 15.)

         As to Yates's RFC, the ALJ stated:

After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) except he can push and/or pull as much as he can lift and/or carry; can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds but can occasionally climb ramps or stairs; can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crawl, or crouch; can occasionally be exposed to vibration, but never be exposed to moving mechanical parts, unprotected heights or have driving a motor vehicle as part of his job duties; is limited to performing simple, routine, and repetitive tasks and making simple work-related decisions; can occasionally respond appropriately to supervisors and/or coworkers but never to the public.

(Tr. 17.)

         The ALJ found that Yates was unable to perform any past relevant work, but was capable of performing other jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy, such as final assembler, document preparer, and table worker. (Tr. 22-23.) The ALJ therefore concluded that Yates was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from May 26, 2011, through the date of the decision. (Tr. 23.)

         The ALJ's final decision reads as follows:

Based on the application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits protectively filed on June 11, 2014, the claimant is not disabled under sections 216(i) and 223(d) of the Social Security Act.
Based on the application for supplemental security income protectively filed on June 30, 2014, the claimant is not disabled under section 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social Security Act.

(Tr. 24.)

         III. Applicable Law

         III.A. Standard of Review

         The 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 ...


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