United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
TAMRA L. ROSE, Plaintiff,
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
NANNETTE A. BAKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Tamra L. Roseâs appeal
regarding the denial of supplemental security income (âSSIâ)
under the Social Security Act. The Court has jurisdiction
over the subject matter of this action under 42 U.S.C. Â§
405(g). The parties have consented to the exercise of
authority by the United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to
28 U.S.C. Â§ 636(c). [Doc. 8.] The Court has reviewed the
partiesâ briefs and the entire administrative record,
including the transcript and medical evidence. Based on the
following, the Court will affirm the Commissionerâs decision.
presents one issue for review. She asserts that the residual
functional capacity determination (âRFCâ) and the vocational
expert testimony based on the RFC are not supported by
substantial evidence. The Commissioner asserts that the
administrative law judgeâs (âALJâ) decision is supported by
substantial evidence in the record as a whole and should be
Social Security Act defines disability as an âinability 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 has lasted or can be
expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12
months.â 42 U.S.C. Â§ 416(i)(1)(A).
standard of review is narrow. Pearsall v. Massanari,
274 F.3d 1211, 1217 (8th Cir. 2001). This Court reviews the
decision of the ALJ to determine whether the decision is
supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole.
42 U.S.C. Â§ 405(g). Substantial evidence is less than a
preponderance, but enough that a reasonable mind would find
adequate support for the ALJâs decision. Smith v.
Shalala, 31 F.3d 715, 717 (8th Cir. 1994). The Court
determines whether evidence is substantial by considering
evidence that detracts from the Commissionerâs decision as
well as evidence that supports it. Cox v. Barnhart,
471 F.3d 902, 906 (8th Cir. 2006). The Court may not reverse
just because substantial evidence exists that would support a
contrary outcome or because the Court would have decided the
case differently. Id. If, after reviewing the record
as a whole, the Court finds it possible to draw two
inconsistent positions from the evidence and one of those
positions represents the Commissionerâs finding, the
Commissionerâs decision must be affirmed. Masterson v.
Barnhart, 363 F.3d 731, 736 (8th Cir. 2004).
Court must affirm the Commissionerâs decision so long as it
conforms to the law and is supported by substantial evidence
on the record as a whole. Collins ex rel. Williams v.
Barnhart, 335 F.3d 726, 729 (8th Cir. 2003). âIn this
substantial-evidence determination, the entire administrative
record is considered but the evidence is not reweighed.â
Byes v. Astrue, 687 F.3d. 913, 915 (8th Cir. 2012).
contends that the ALJâs RFC should have included marked
limitations in interacting appropriately with the public,
supervisors, and co-workers and responding to routine changes
in a work setting as set forth in Dr. Thomas Spencerâs
is a function-by-function assessment of an individualâs
ability to do sustained work-related physical and mental
activities on a regular and continuing basis. SSR 96-8p, 1996
WL 374184, at *1 (July 2, 1996). It is the administrative law
judgeâs (âALJâ) responsibility to determine the claimantâs
RFC based on all relevant evidence, including medical
records, observations of treating physicians and others, and
the claimantâs own descriptions of his limitations.
Pearsall, 274 F.3d at 1217. âIt is the claimantâs
burden, and not the Social Security Commissionerâs burden, to
prove the claimantâs RFC.â Baldwin v. Barnhart, 349
F.3d 549, 556 (8th Cir. 2003). An RFC determination made by
an ALJ will be upheld if it is supported by substantial
evidence in the record. See Cox, 471 F.3d at 907.
âBecause a claimantâs RFC is a medical question, an ALJâs
assessment of it must be supported by some medical evidence
of the claimantâs ability to function in the workplace.â
Hensley v. Colvin, 829 F.3d 926, 932 (8th Cir.
2016). There is no requirement, however, that an RFC finding
be supported by a specific medical opinion. Hensley,
829 F.3d at 932 (RFC affirmed without medical opinion
evidence); Myers v. Colvin, 721 F.3d 521, 527 (8th
Cir. 2013) (same); Perks v. Astrue, 687 F.3d 1086,
1092-93 (8th Cir. 2012) (same).
case, the ALJ found that Rose had the severe impairments of
unspecified mood disorder, social anxiety disorder, and
alcohol use disorder in sustained remission. (Tr. 12.) The
ALJ determined that Rose had the RFC to perform the full
range of work at all exertional levels with the following
limitations: (1) simple, routine, repetitive tasks; (2) no
fast-paced production environments; (3) no contact with the
general public; and (4) occasional, superficial interaction
with coworkers and supervisors, that do not require working
in teams or in collaboration. (Tr. 14.)
Spencer conducted a psychological evaluation of Rose on
October 20, 2016 as a consultative psychological examiner for
the Social Security Administration. (Tr. 643-51.) During the
mental status examination, Dr. Spencer observed that Roseâs
motor behavior was within normal limits, she cooperated with
the examiner, and was a decent historian. She presented with
a depressed mood and restricted affect. She was alert and
oriented to person, time, place, and event. Although Dr.
Spencer described her insight and judgment as questionable,
her flow of thought was intact and she did not appear
paranoid or grandiose. He determined that she had unspecified
mood disorder, social anxiety disorder, and alcohol use
disorder in sustained remission. (Tr. 645.)
Spencer opined that Rose had a mild impairment in
understanding, remembering, and carrying out simple
instructions. (Tr. 647.) He found that she had moderate
limitation in ability to make judgments on simple work
related decisions. He opined that she had marked limitations
in understanding, remembering, and carrying out complex
instructions and making judgments on complex work-related
decisions. He also opined that she had marked limitations in
interacting appropriately with the public, supervisors, and
co-workers and responding appropriately to usual work
situations and to changes in a routine work setting. (Tr.
648.). Dr. Spencer opined Rose had a global assessment
functioning (âGAFâ) score range of 55-60. On the GAF scale, a
score from 51 to 60 represents moderate symptoms (
e.g., flat affect and circumstantial speech,
occasional panic attacks) or ...