Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Bond v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

April 11, 2019

ANGELA BOND, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER'S DECISION

          GREG KAYS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         This action seeks judicial review of the Acting Commissioner of Social Security's (“the Commissioner”) decision denying Plaintiff Angela Bond's applications for Social Security disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act (“the Act”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434, and Supplemental Security Income under Title XVI of the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381- 1383f. The Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found Plaintiff had severe impairments of Meniere's disease, trigeminal neuralgia, pineal cyst, cervical spondylosis, and fibromyalgia, but she retained the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform past work as a cashier and receptionist.

         After carefully reviewing the record and the parties' arguments, the Court finds the ALJ's opinion is supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole. The Commissioner's decision is AFFIRMED.

         Procedural and Factual Background

         The complete facts and arguments are presented in the parties' briefs and are repeated here only to the extent necessary.

         Plaintiff filed her applications on December 29, 2015, alleging a disability onset date of December 29, 2015. The Commissioner denied the applications at the initial claim level, and Plaintiff appealed the denial to an ALJ. The ALJ held a hearing and, on November 28, 2017, issued a decision finding Plaintiff was not disabled. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on February 15, 2018, leaving the ALJ's decision as the Commissioner's final decision. Plaintiff has exhausted all administrative remedies and judicial review is now appropriate under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3).

         Standard of Review

          A federal court's review of the Commissioner's decision to deny disability benefits is limited to determining whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole. Chaney v. Colvin, 812 F.3d 672, 676 (8th Cir. 2016). Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance, but is enough evidence that a reasonable mind would find it sufficient to support the Commissioner's decision. Id. In making this assessment, the court considers evidence that detracts from the Commissioner's decision, as well as evidence that supports it. Id. The court must “defer heavily” to the Commissioner's findings and conclusions. Wright v. Colvin, 789 F.3d 847, 852 (8th Cir. 2015). The court may reverse the Commissioner's decision only if it falls outside of the available zone of choice; a decision is not outside this zone simply because the evidence also points to an alternate outcome. Buckner v. Astrue, 646 F.3d 549, 556 (8th Cir. 2011).

         Discussion

         The Commissioner follows a five-step sequential evaluation process[1] to determine whether a claimant is disabled, that is, unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of a medically determinable impairment that has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least twelve months. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). Plaintiff argues the ALJ erred at Step Two in finding her mental impairments were non-severe. She also argues the ALJ erred at Step Four in finding her mental impairments did not cause any work-related limitations and that her subjective symptoms were not consistent with the evidence as a whole.

         I. The ALJ did not err in finding Plaintiff's mental impairments were non-severe.

         Plaintiff argues the ALJ erred in finding that her depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder were non-severe impairments because they resulted in only mild limitations in her activities of daily living, social functioning, and concentration, persistence, or pace. Plaintiff notes the standard for finding an impairment to be a severe impairment is low, and she contends the ALJ's decision is not supported by substantial evidence.

         In order to meet the Step Two “severity” requirement, Plaintiff had the burden of showing she had (1) a “medically determinable” impairment or combination of impairments which (2) significantly limited her physical or mental ability to perform basic work activities without regard to age, education, or work experience for the required twelve-month duration. 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(c), 416.921(a); King v. Astrue, 564 F.3d 978, 979 n.2 (8th Cir. 2009). Although severity is not an onerous requirement, it is not a toothless standard either. Kirby v. Astrue, 500 F.3d 705, 708 (8th Cir. 2007).

         The ALJ analyzed Plaintiff's depression using the psychiatric review technique prescribed by the regulations for evaluating mental impairments. This technique considers the claimant's degree of limitation in four functional areas known as the Category B criteria: (1) understanding, remembering, or applying information; (2) interacting with others; (3) concentration, persistence, or pace; and (4) adopting or managing oneself. R. at 23-24; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1521(a) and 416.920a. The ALJ found Plaintiff had only ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.