United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
LISA R. MEDLEY, Plaintiff,
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security,  Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CATHERINE D. PERRY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Lisa R. Medley brings this action under 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405 and 1383 seeking judicial review of the
Commissioner's final decision denying her claims for
disability insurance benefits (DIB) under Title II of the
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401, et
seq., and for supplemental security income (SSI) under
Title XVI of the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381, et
seq. Because the Commissioner's final decision is
supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole, I
must affirm the decision.
February 10, 2017, the Social Security Administration denied
Medley's applications for DIB and SSI, in which she
claimed she became disabled on December 2, 2016, because of
severe sleep apnea, diabetes, severe back issues, cardiology
problems, severe depression, severe anxiety, high blood
pressure, high cholesterol, severe falling episodes, and
severe memory loss. At Medley's request, a hearing was
held before an administrative law judge (ALJ) on April 17,
2018, at which Medley and a vocational expert testified. On
May 14, 2018, the ALJ denied Medley's claims for
benefits, finding the vocational expert's testimony to
support a finding that Medley could perform work that exists
in significant numbers in the national economy. On July 19,
2018, the Appeals Council denied Medley'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. §
action for judicial review, Medley claims that the ALJ's
decision is not supported by substantial evidence on the
record as a whole. Specifically, Medley argues that the ALJ
erred in failing to consider her neuropathy, syncope, and
vertigo as severe impairments and thus failed to consider the
effects of these impairments in determining her residual
functional capacity (RFC). Medley also claims that the ALJ
improperly evaluated her treating physician's medical
opinion. Medley asks that I reverse the ALJ's decision
and remand the matter to the Commissioner for further
reasons that follow, the ALJ did not err in his
Records and Other Evidence Before the ALJ
respect to the medical records and other evidence of record,
I adopt Medley's recitation of facts set forth in her
Statement of Uncontroverted Facts (ECF 17) and note that they
are generally admitted by the Commissioner with some
clarification. (ECF 23-1.) I also adopt the
Commissioner's Statement of Additional Material Facts
(ECF 23-2), to which Medley has not responded. These
statements provide a fair and accurate description of the
relevant record before the Court. Additional specific facts
are discussed as needed to address the parties'
eligible for DIB and SSI under the Social Security Act,
Medley must prove that she 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 [her] physical or mental impairment or
impairments are of such severity that [she] is not only
unable to do [her] previous work but cannot, considering
[her] age, education, and work experience, engage in any
other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the
national economy.” 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(2)(A),
Commissioner engages in a five-step evaluation process to
determine whether a claimant is disabled. See 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920 (2018); 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
she has a severe impairment; and whether her severe
impairments) 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 her physical and mental
limitations, Martise v. Astrue, 641 F.3d 909, 923
(8th Cir. 2011) - and determine whether the claimant is able
to perform her past relevant work. 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
her 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 disabled, and disability benefits
claimant bears the burden through Step 4 of the analysis. If
she meets this burden and shows that she is unable to perform
her 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 her
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 nonexertional
limitations, the Commissioner may satisfy his burden at Step
5 through the testimony of a vocational expert. King v.
Astrue, 564 F.3d 978, 980 (8th Cir. 2009).
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 Commissioner's decision merely because
substantial evidence could also support a contrary outcome.
McNamara, 590 F.3d at 610.