United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Northern Division
DAVID U. FRALEY, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court for judicial review of the final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security finding that
Plaintiff is not disabled and thus not entitled to disability
insurance benefits or supplemental security income under
Title II, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434, and Title XVI, 42
U.S.C. § 1381-1385, respectively. For the reasons set
forth below the decision of the Commissioner is affirmed.
and Procedural History
filed his applications for disability insurance benefits
under Title II, and for SSI under Title XVI, on April 15,
2015. Plaintiff was born in 1980, reported an eighth grade
education, and alleged disability beginning April 2, 2015. In
his Disability Report, Plaintiff alleged disability due to
seizures. Plaintiff's applications were denied initially.
Following an administrative hearing on November 17, 2016,
Plaintiff's claims were denied in a written opinion by an
ALJ, dated March 22, 2017. On December 28, 2017, the Appeals
Council of the Social Security Administration denied
Plaintiff's request for review. Thus, the decision of the
ALJ stands as the final decision of the Commissioner.
found that Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of
the Social Security Act through December 31, 2019. She found
that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the alleged onset date of April 2, 2015.
found that Plaintiff had severe impairments of seizure
disorder, degenerative disc disease with lumbar
radiculopathy, peripheral neuropathy, depression, and
anxiety. The ALJ did not find Plaintiff had an impairment or
combination of impairments listed in or medically equal to
one contained in 20 C.F.R. part 404, subpart P, appendix 1.
In making this determination, the ALJ considered
Plaintiff's seizure condition under the requirements of
Listing 11.02, and Plaintiff's mental impairments under
the requirements of Listings 12.04 and 12.06. In each case,
the ALJ found that the requirements were not met.
found that Plaintiff retained the residual functional
capacity (RFC) to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b). Plaintiff can never
climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, but can no more than
occasionally climb stairs and ramps. He must avoid all
exposure to work hazards such as unprotected heights and
being around dangerous moving machinery. Plaintiff cannot
drive as a primary job function. He must avoid being near
fires or bodies of water (including bathing in the tub).
Plaintiff can tolerate occasional interaction with coworkers
and supervisors. He cannot tolerate any contact with the
general public or any work completely alone. The ALJ
concluded that Plaintiff's impairments would not preclude
him from performing work that exists in significant numbers
in the national economy, those jobs including the light and
unskilled jobs of electrical assembler, inspector/hand
packager, and small parts assembler.
respect to his seizure disorder, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff's subjective complaints were out of proportion
to the objective medical evidence, and that Plaintiff's
reported symptoms were not consistent with his willingness to
follow his doctors' recommendations. For example, the ALJ
noted that, despite his alleged seizure risk and concerns of
injury during a seizure, Plaintiff admitted to chopping wood.
He admitted to going fishing at the creek and going to parks,
even though his doctors advised him to avoid bodies of water.
Plaintiff also admitted to drinking alcohol even though he
was advised by doctors that doing so lowered his seizure
standard of review here is limited to a determination of
whether the decision is supported by substantial evidence on
the record as a whole. See Milam v. Colvin, 794 F.3d
978, 983 (8th Cir. 2015). Substantial evidence is less than
preponderance, but enough that a reasonable mind might accept
as adequate to support the Commissioner's conclusion.
Court must consider evidence that both supports and detracts
from the Commissioner's decision but cannot reverse the
decision because substantial evidence also exists in the
record that would have supported a contrary outcome, or
because it would have decided the case differently. See
Andrews v. Colvin, 791 F.3d 923, 928 (8th Cir. 2015). If
the Court finds that the evidence supports two inconsistent
positions and one of those positions represents the
Commissioner's findings, the Court must affirm the
Commissioner's decision. Wright v. Colvin, 789
F.3d 847, 852 (8th Cir. 2015). The Eighth Circuit has stated
that “[w]e defer heavily to the findings and
conclusions of the Social Security Administration.”
Id. (quoting Hurd v. Astrue, 621 F.3d 734,
738 (8th Cir. 2010)).
for Determining Disability
Social Security Act defines as disabled a person who is
“unable 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 which
has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period
of not less than twelve months.” 42 U.S.C. §
1382c(a)(3)(A); see also Hurd v. Astrue, 621 F.3d
734, 738 (8th Cir.2010). The impairment must be “of
such severity that [the claimant] is not only unable to do
his previous work but cannot, considering his age, education,
and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial
gainful work which exists in the national economy, regardless
of whether such ...