United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
C. COLLINS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
an action under Title 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for judicial
review of the final decision of the Commissioner denying the
application of Kevin Lee Manes (“Plaintiff”) for
Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title
II, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401, et seq. and
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title
XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381,
et seq. Plaintiff has filed a brief in support of
the Complaint (Doc. 13), Defendant has filed a brief in
support of the Answer (Doc. 16), and Plaintiff has filed a
reply brief (Doc. 17). The parties have consented to the
jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate
Judge pursuant to Title 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) (Doc. 7).
filed his applications for DIB and SSI on January 11, 2015
(Tr. 10, 134-49). Plaintiff was initially denied on February
20, 2015, and he filed a Request for Hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) (Tr. 66-75,
76-89). After a hearing on August 12, 2016, by decision dated
January 5, 2017, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled (Tr.
7-24). On January 18, 2018, the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-4). As such, the
ALJ's decision stands as the final decision of the
DECISION OF THE ALJ
determined that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since December 22, 2014, the alleged onset
date (Tr. 12). The ALJ found Plaintiff has the following
severe impairments: degenerative disc disease, degenerative
joint disease, bilateral hearing loss, status/post hernia
repair surgery, unspecified disorder of the male genital
organs, migraine headaches, and chronic obstructive pulmonary
disorder but that no impairment or combination of impairments
met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (Tr.
considering the entire record, the ALJ determined Plaintiff
has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
perform light work,  with the following limitations
(Id.). He can lift or carry 20 pounds occasionally
and 10 pounds frequently (Id.). He can stand or walk
6 hours in an 8-hour workday (Id.). He can sit for 6
hours in an 8-hour workday (Id.). He can push or
pull in the limits for lifting and carrying (Id.).
Plaintiff is able to occasionally bend, kneel, crouch, and
crawl (Id.). He can occasionally use ramps, stairs,
ladders, ropes, and scaffolds (Id.). He can do
occasional overhead reaching with his right dominant upper
extremity (Id.). He should work in a moderate or
office noise level environment (Id.). He should
avoid concentrated exposure to flashing lights and inhaled
pulmonary irritants, such as dust, fumes, odors, poor
ventilation, and high humidity (Id.). The ALJ found
Plaintiff incapable of performing his past relevant work (Tr.
18). However, the ALJ found there are jobs that exist in
significant numbers that Plaintiff can perform, namely jobs
as a routing clerk, cafeteria attendant, and mail clerk (Tr.
18-19). Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that a finding of
“not disabled” was appropriate.
the Social Security Act, the Commissioner has established a
five-step process for determining whether a person is
disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920, 404.1529. “If
a claimant fails to meet the criteria at any step in the
evaluation of disability, the process ends and the claimant
is determined to be not disabled.” Goff v.
Barnhart, 421 F.3d 785, 790 (8th Cir. 2005) (quoting
Eichelberger v. Barnhart, 390 F.3d 584, 590-91 (8th
Cir. 2004)). In this sequential analysis, the claimant first
cannot be engaged in “substantial gainful
activity” to qualify for disability benefits. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 416.920(b), 404.1520(b). Second, the claimant
must have a severe impairment. 20 C.F.R. §§
416.920(c), 404.1520(c). The Social Security Act defines
“severe impairment” as “any impairment or
combination of impairments which significantly limits
[claimant's] physical or mental ability to do basic work
activities. . . .” Id. “‘The
sequential evaluation process may be terminated at step two
only when the claimant's impairment or combination of
impairments would have no more than a minimal impact on [his
or] her ability to work.'” Page v. Astrue,
484 F.3d 1040, 1043 (8th Cir. 2007) (quoting Caviness v.
Massanari, 250 F.3d 603, 605 (8th Cir. 2001), citing
Nguyen v. Chater, 75 F.3d 429, 430-31 (8th Cir.
the ALJ must determine whether the claimant has an impairment
which meets or equals one of the impairments listed in the
Regulations. 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(d), 404.1520(d).
If the claimant has one of, or the medical equivalent of,
these impairments, then the claimant is per se disabled
without consideration of the claimant's age, education,
or work history. Id.
the impairment must prevent the claimant from doing past
relevant work. 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(f),
404.1520(f). The burden rests with the claimant at this
fourth step to establish his or her RFC. Steed v.
Astrue, 524 F.3d 872, 874 n.3 (8th Cir. 2008)
(“Through step four of this analysis, the claimant has
the burden of showing that she is disabled.”). The ALJ
will review a claimant's RFC and the physical and mental
demands of the work the claimant has done in the past. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(f).
the severe impairment must prevent the claimant from doing
any other work. 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(g),
404.1520(g). At this fifth step of the sequential analysis,
the Commissioner has the burden of production to show
evidence of other jobs in the national economy that can be
performed by a person with the claimant's RFC.
Steed, 524 F.3d at 874 n.3. If the claimant meets
these standards, the ALJ will find the claimant to be
disabled. “The ultimate burden of persuasion to prove
disability, however, remains with the claimant.”
Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065, 1069 n.5 (8th Cir.
2000). See also Harris v. Barnhart, 356 F.3d 926,
931 n.2 (8th Cir. 2004) (citing 68 Fed. Reg. 51153, 51155
(Aug. 26, 2003)); Stormo v. Barnhart, 377 F.3d 801,
806 (8th Cir. 2004) (“The burden of persuasion to prove
disability and to demonstrate RFC remains on the claimant,
even when the burden of production shifts to the Commissioner
at step five.”). Even if a court finds that there is a
preponderance of the evidence against the ALJ's decision,
the decision must be affirmed if it is supported by
substantial evidence. Clark v. Heckler, 733 F.2d 65,
68 (8th Cir. 1984). “Substantial evidence is less than
a preponderance but is enough that a reasonable mind would
find it adequate to support the Commissioner's
conclusion.” Krogmeier v. Barnhart, 294 F.3d
1019, 1022 (8th Cir. 2002). See also Cox v. Astrue,
495 F.3d 614, 617 (8th Cir. 2007).
not the job of the district court to re-weigh the evidence or
review the factual record de novo. Cox, 495 F.3d at
617. Instead, the district court must simply determine
whether the quantity and quality of evidence is enough so
that a reasonable mind might find it adequate to support the
ALJ's conclusion. Davis v. Apfel, 239 F.3d 962,
966 (8th Cir. 2001) (citing McKinney v. Apfel, 228
F.3d 860, 863 (8th Cir. 2000)). Weighing the evidence is a
function of the ALJ, who is the fact-finder. Masterson v.
Barnhart, 363 F.3d 731, 736 (8th Cir. 2004). Thus, an
administrative decision which is supported by substantial
evidence is not subject to reversal merely because
substantial evidence may also support an opposite conclusion
or because the reviewing court would have decided
differently. Krogmeier, 294 F.3d at 1022.
determine whether the Commissioner's final decision is
supported by substantial evidence, the court is required to
review the ...