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Braboy v. Saul

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

August 26, 2019

LINDA D. BRABOY, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, [1]Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          ABBIE CRITES-LEONI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Linda D. Braboy brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of the Social Security Administration Commissioner's denial of her applications for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Act.

         An Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found that, despite Braboy's severe impairments, she was not disabled as she 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 affirmed.

         I. Procedural History

         Braboy filed her application for benefits on October 7, 2014, claiming that she became unable to work on January 1, 2010. (Tr. 788-801.) In her Disability Report, Braboy alleged disability due to the following conditions: spondylosis, scoliosis, neck pain, sciatic nerve pain, inflammation of the spine, ankle weakness, numbness in the hands and feet, heart valve problems, vasovagal syncopy, hip problems, rashes on the arms and legs, urination and bowel problems, obesity, and heel and ankle pain. (Tr. 827.) Braboy was 38 years of age at her alleged onset of disability. Id. Her applications were denied initially. (Tr.707.) Braboy's claims were denied by an ALJ on June 14, 2017, after a hearing. (Tr. 615-34.) On February 22, 2018, the Appeals Council denied Braboy's claim for review. (Tr. 1-3.) 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, Braboy argues that the ALJ “failed to fully and fairly develop the record.” (Doc. 18 at 3.) Braboy also contends that the “decision of the ALJ is contrary to the weight of the evidence currently of record.” Id. at 6.

         II. The ALJ's Determination

         The ALJ first found that Braboy has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since January 1, 2010, the alleged onset date. (Tr. 621.) In addition, the ALJ concluded that Braboy has the following severe impairments: postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (“POTS”)[2]/ vasovagal syncope; degenerative disc disease and degenerative joint disease; obesity; hallux valgus of bilateral feet; pes planus; osteoarthritis of the feet, bilateral knees, and elbows; mild right sacroiliac joint arthritis; and obstructive sleep apnea. Id. The ALJ found that Braboy did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments. (Tr. 622.)

         As to Braboy's RFC, the ALJ stated:

After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) with the following limitations. The claimant can occasionally climb ramps or stairs, but no ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl. She can occasionally reach overhead and can frequently reach in all other directions. She should never be exposed to unprotected heights, moving mechanical parts, vibration, or operating a motor vehicle as a job duty.

(Tr. 622-23.)

         The ALJ found that Braboy was unable to perform any past work, but was capable of performing other jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy, such as patcher, surveillance system monitor, and polisher. (Tr. 626-28.) The ALJ therefore concluded that Braboy was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from January 1, 2010, through the date of the decision. (Tr. 628.)

         The ALJ's final decision reads as follows:

Based on the application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits protectively filed on October 7, 2014, the claimant is not disabled under sections 216(i) and 223(d) of the Social Security Act.
Based on the application for supplemental security income protectively filed on October 7, 2014, the claimant is not disabled under section 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social Security Act.

(Tr. 629.)

         III. Applicable Law

         III.A. Standard of Review

         The decision of the Commissioner must be affirmed 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); Estes v. Barnhart, 275 F.3d 722, 724 (8th Cir. 2002). Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance of the evidence, but enough that a reasonable person would find it adequate to support the conclusion. Johnson v. Apfel, 240 F.3d 1145, 1147 (8th Cir. 2001). This “substantial evidence test, ” however, is “more than a mere search of the record for evidence supporting the Commissioner's findings.” Coleman v. Astrue, 498 F.3d 767, 770 (8th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). “Substantial evidence on the record as a whole . . . requires a more scrutinizing analysis.” Id. (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

         To determine whether the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole, the Court must review ...


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