United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Southwestern Division
J.Epps, Jr., United States Magistrate Judge.
Stacy Brock seeks judicial review of a final administrative
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
(Commissioner) denying her claim for disability insurance
benefits (DIB) under Title II of the Social Security Act, 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. Ms. Brock contends the administrative record (AR)
does not contain substantial evidence to support the
Commissioner's decision that she was not disabled during
the relevant period. For the reasons that follow, the
Commissioner's decision will be reversed and remanded for
further consideration and development of the record.
Brock applied for DIB and SSI on June 8, 2015. (AR 15). Her
claim was initially denied, and she subsequently filed a
request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(ALJ). (AR 15). On September 26, 2017, the ALJ held a hearing
on this matter. Id. Ms. Brock testified at the
hearing and discussed issues relating to her alleged
disability, including complications she suffers as a result
of fibromyalgia and narcolepsy. (AR 47). The ALJ heard this
testimony and also reviewed Ms. Brock's objective medical
records. (AR 15-27).
ultimately decided Ms. Brock was not disabled. (AR 27). The
ALJ found Ms. Brock had severe impairments of obesity,
degenerative disc disease (DDD) in the cervical and lumber
spine, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and migraines.
(AR 18). However, the ALJ noted that Ms. Brock's
subjective complaints regarding the intensity, persistence,
and limiting effects of her alleged limitations were not
entirely consistent with all the evidence in the record. (AR
22-24). Furthermore, the ALJ found Dr. Pak's opinion that
Ms. Brock could not perform sedentary work to be inconsistent
with the record. (AR 24). As a result, the ALJ concluded that
she retained the ability to perform sedentary work with
additional limitations. (AR 20-21). On August 20, 2018, the
Appeals Council denied Ms. Brock's request for review.
(AR 1-6). Thus, the ALJ's decision stands as the final
decision of the Commissioner.
Disability Determination and the Bnrden of Proof
burden of establishing a disability as defined by the SSA in
42 U.S.C. § 423(d) rests on the claimant. Simmons v.
Massanari, 264 F.3d 751, 754 (8th Cir. 2001); Roth
v. Shalala, 45 F.3d 279, 282 (8th Cir. 1995). To meet
the burden, the claimant must show a medically determinable
impairment that has lasted or will likely last for a period
of at least one year and has rendered claimant unable to
engage in any "substantial gainful activity." 42
U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A); Simmons, 264 F.3d at
754; see also McMillian v. Schweiker, 697 F.2d 215,
220 (8th Cir. 1983). Based on these criteria, the Social
Security Administration has established a five-step,
sequential evaluation process for appraising whether a
claimant is disabled and benefit-eligible. 20 C.F.R
§§ 404.1520 and 416.920; see also Kirby v.
Astrue, 500 F.3d 705, 707 (8th Cir. 2007).
Commissioner must evaluate:
(1) whether the claimant is presently engaged in a
substantial gainful activity;
(2) whether the claimant has a severe impairment that
significantly limits the claimant's physical or mental
ability to perform basic work activities;
(3) whether the claimant has an impairment that meets or
equals a presumptively disabling impairment listed in the
(4) whether the claimant has the residual functional capacity
to perform his or her past relevant work; and
(5) if the claimant cannot perform the past work, the burden
shifts to the Commissioner to prove that there are other jobs
in the national economy that the claimant can perform.
Dixon v. Barnhart, 353 F.3d 602, 605 (8th Cir.
2003); Simmons, 264 F.3d at 754-55.
one, the Commissioner must determine whether the claimant is
engaged in "substantial gainful activity" (SGA). 20
C.F.R §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i) and 416.920(a)(4)(i).
"Substantial work activity" is work activity that
involves doing significant physical or mental activities. 20
C.F.R § 404.1572(a). "Gainful work activity"
is work that is usually done for pay or profit, whether or
not a profit is realized. 20 C.F.R § 404.1572(b). If the
claimant is engaged in SGA, then the claimant is not
disabled. 20 C.F.R §§ ...