United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CATHERINE D. PERRY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Gregory Crawford brings this action under 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405 and 1383 seeking judicial review of the
Commissioner's final decision denying his claims for
disability insurance benefits (DIB) under Title II of the
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401, et
seq. Because the Commissioner's final decision is
supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole, I
will affirm the decision.
April 13, 2015, the Social Security Administration denied
Crawford's May 2013 application for DIB, in which he
claimed he became disabled on December 22, 2014, because of
his multiple sclerosis (MS). Crawford requested a hearing and
the hearing was held before an administrative law judge (ALJ)
on February 2, 2017, at which Crawford and a vocational
expert testified. On July 3, 2017, the ALJ denied
Crawford's claims for benefits, finding the vocational
expert's testimony to support a finding that Crawford
could perform work as it exists in significant numbers in the
national economy. On January 31, 2018, the Appeals Council
denied Crawford's request for review of the ALJ's
decision. The ALJ's decision is thus the final decision
of the Commissioner. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
action for judicial review, Crawford contends that the ALJ
erred in his consideration of his residual functional
capacity (RFC) and failed to properly develop the record.
Specifically, Crawford argues that the ALJ erred in his RFC
assessment because he improperly discredited Crawford's
subjective complaints and improperly relied on the medical
expert's opinion, which Crawford contends was based on an
incomplete review of the record. Crawford also claims that
the ALJ improperly relied on the vocational expert's
testimony in finding him not disabled because the
hypothetical posed to the expert was based on the improperly
assessed RFC. For the reasons that follow, I will affirm the
Records and Other Evidence Before the ALJ
respect to the medical records and other evidence of record,
I adopt Crawford's recitation of facts set forth in his
Statement of Uncontroverted Facts and note that they are
admitted by the Commissioner. (ECF 19; ECF 28-1). I also
adopt the additional facts set forth in the
Commissioner's Statement of Additional Facts and note
that they are unrefuted by Crawford. (ECF 28-2). Together,
these statements provide a fair and accurate description of
the relevant record before the Court. Additional specific
facts will be discussed as needed to address the parties'
eligible for DIB under the Social Security Act, Crawford must
prove that he is disabled. Pearsall v. Massanari,
274 F.3d 1211, 1217 (8th Cir. 2001); Baker v. Secretary
of Health & Human Servs., 955 F.2d 552, 555 (8th
Cir. 1992). The Social Security Act defines disability as the
inability “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.
§§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). An individual will
be declared disabled “only if [his] physical or mental
impairment or impairments are of such severity that [he] 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.” 42 U.S.C. §§
Commissioner engages in a five-step evaluation process to
determine whether a claimant is disabled. See 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520; Bowen v. Yuckert, 482
U.S. 137, 140-42 (1987). The first three steps involve a
determination as to whether the claimant is currently engaged
in substantial gainful activity; whether he has a severe
impairment; and whether his severe impairment(s) meets or
medically equals the severity of a listed impairment. At Step
4 of the process, the ALJ must assess the claimant's RFC
- that is, the most the claimant is able to do despite his
physical and mental limitations and determine whether the
claimant is able to perform his past relevant work.
Martise v. Astrue, 641 F.3d 909, 923 (8th Cir.
2011); Goff v. Barnhart, 421 F.3d 785, 790 (8th Cir.
2005) (RFC assessment occurs at fourth step of process). If
the claimant is unable to perform his past work, the
Commissioner continues to Step 5 and determines whether the
claimant can perform other work as it exists in significant
numbers in the national economy. If so, the claimant is found
not to be disabled, and disability benefits are denied.
claimant bears the burden through Step 4 of the analysis. If
he meets this burden and shows that he is unable to perform
his past relevant work, the burden shifts to the Commissioner
at Step 5 to produce evidence demonstrating that the claimant
has the RFC to perform other jobs in the national economy
that exist in significant numbers and are consistent with his
impairments and vocational factors such as age, education,
and work experience. Phillips v. Astrue, 671 F.3d
699, 702 (8th Cir. 2012). If the claimant has non-exertional
impairments, such as pain or postural limitations, the
Commissioner may satisfy his burden at Step 5 through the
testimony of a vocational expert. Pearsall, 274 F.3d
affirm the Commissioner's decision 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); Jones v. Astrue, 619 F.3d 963, 968 (8th
Cir. 2010). Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance
but enough that a reasonable person would find it adequate to
support the conclusion. Jones, 619 F.3d at 968.
Determining whether there is substantial evidence requires
scrutinizing analysis. Coleman v. Astrue, 498 F.3d
767, 770 (8th Cir. 2007).
consider evidence that supports the Commissioner's
decision as well as any evidence that fairly detracts from
the decision. McNamara v. Astrue, 590 F.3d 607, 610
(8th Cir. 2010). If, after reviewing the entire record, it is
possible to draw two inconsistent positions and the
Commissioner has adopted one of those positions, I must
affirm the Commissioner's decision. Anderson v.
Astrue, 696 F.3d 790, 793 (8th Cir. 2012). I may not
reverse the ...