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Alexander v. Berryhill

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

March 22, 2019

DEVIN ALEXANDER, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner of Operations, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          ABBIE CRITES-LEONI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Devin Alexander brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of the Social Security Administration Commissioner's denial of his application for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act.

         An Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found that, despite Alexander's severe 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 reversed and remanded.

         I. Procedural History

         Alexander filed his application for SSI on December 16, 2014, claiming that he became unable to work on April 1, 2009.[1] (Tr. 135-40.) In his Disability Report, he alleged disability due to severe social anxiety and mood disorder. (Tr. 162.) Alexander was 20 years of age at the time of his alleged onset of disability. His claim was denied initially. (Tr. 73.) Following an administrative hearing, Alexander's claim was denied in a written opinion by an ALJ, dated September 15, 2016. (Tr. 10-25.) Alexander 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 25, 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, Alexander argues that the ALJ “failed to provide an RFC supported by substantial evidence in that the ALJ did not properly consider the opinion from Alexander's treating doctor, Dr. Mirza.” (Doc. 11 at 7.)

         II. The ALJ's Determination

         The ALJ first found that Alexander has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 16, 2014, the application date. (Tr. 15.) In addition, the ALJ concluded that Alexander had the following severe impairments: social phobia, schizoid personality disorder, [2]mood disorder, and psychosis not otherwise specified. Id. The ALJ found that Alexander did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments. (Tr. 16.)

         As to Alexander'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 work at all exertional levels. He is limited to simple, routine, repetitive tasks with occasional interaction with co-workers, and no interaction with the general public. He retains the ability to accept supervision on a basic level.

(Tr. 18.) In making this determination, the ALJ assigned “significant weight” to the opinion of non-examining State agency psychological consultant Alan Aram, Psy.D. (Tr. 20.) By comparison, the ALJ gave “little weight” to the Medical Source Statement of treating psychiatrist Naveed Mirza, M.D. Id.

         The ALJ found that Alexander had no past relevant work, but was capable of performing jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy, such as industrial cleaner, tumbler operator, and lamination assembler. (Tr. 21-22.) The ALJ therefore concluded that Alexander was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, since November 16, 2014, the date the application was filed. (Tr. 22.)

         The ALJ's final decision reads as follows:

Based on the application for supplemental security income protectively filed on November 16, 2014, the claimant is not disabled under section 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social Security Act.

Id.

         III. Applicable Law

         III.A. ...


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