United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STEPHEN R. CLARK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denied
plaintiff Awatifabduljali Al Rubaee’s application for
supplemental security income benefits under Title XVI of the
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381, et
seq. Al Rubaee now seeks judicial review. The
Commissioner opposes the motion. The issues being fully
briefed, and for the reasons set forth, the Court affirms the
Rubaee’s application was denied at the initial
determination level. She then appeared before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). After
consideration of “all the evidence, ” the ALJ
concluded “the claimant has not been under a disability
within the meaning of the Social Security Act.” (Tr.
11). Al Rubaee then filed a request for review of the
ALJ’s decision with the Appeals Council of the Social
Security Administration. The Appeals Council denied review.
Thus, the decision of the ALJ stands as the final decision of
the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.1481. Al
Rubaee now seeks review by this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
Disability Determination-Five Steps
disability is defined 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. § 1382c(a)(3)(A). A
claimant has a disability “only if his physical or
mental impairment or impairments are of such severity that he
is not only unable to do his previous work but cannot,
considering his age, education, and work experience, engage
in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in
the national economy[.]” Id. at §
Commissioner follows a five-step sequential process when
evaluating whether the claimant has a disability. 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.920(a)(1). First, the Commissioner considers the
claimant’s work activity. If the claimant is engaged in
substantial gainful activity, the claimant is not disabled.
20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(i).
if the claimant is not engaged in substantial gainful
activity, the Commissioner looks to see whether “the
claimant has a severe impairment [that] significantly limits
[the] claimant’s physical or mental ability to do basic
work activities.” Hurd v. Astrue, 621 F.3d
734, 738 (8th Cir. 2010); see also 20 C.F.R. §
416.920(a)(4)(ii). “An impairment is not severe if it
amounts only to a slight abnormality that would not
significantly limit the claimant’s physical or mental
ability to do basic work activities.” Kirby v.
Astrue, 500 F.3d 705, 707 (8th Cir. 2007); see
also 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(c), 416.920a(d).
if the claimant has a severe impairment, the Commissioner
considers the impairment’s medical severity. If the
impairment meets or equals one of the presumptively disabling
impairments listed in the regulations, the claimant is
considered disabled, regardless of age, education, and work
experience. 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(a)(4)(iii), (d).
if the claimant’s impairment is severe, but it does not
meet or equal one of the presumptively disabling impairments,
the Commissioner assesses whether the claimant retains the
“residual functional capacity” (RFC) to perform
his or her past relevant work. 20 C.F.R. §§
416.920(a)(4)(iv), 416.945(a)(5)(i). An RFC is “defined
as the most a claimant can still do despite his or her
physical or mental limitations.” Martise v.
Astrue, 641 F.3d 909, 923 (8th Cir. 2011); see
also 20 C.F.R. § 416.945(a)(1). While an RFC must
be based “on all relevant evidence, including the
medical records, observations of treating physicians and
others, and an individual’s own description of his
limitations, ” an RFC is nonetheless an
“administrative assessment”-not a medical
assessment-and therefore “it is the responsibility of
the ALJ, not a physician, to determine a claimant’s
RFC.” Boyd v. Colvin, 831F.3d 1015, 1020 (8th
Cir. 2016). Thus, “there is no requirement that an RFC
finding be supported by a specific medical opinion.”
Hensley v. Colvin, 829 F.3d 926, 932 (8th Cir.
2016). Ultimately, the claimant is responsible for
providing evidence relating to his RFC and the
Commissioner is responsible for developing the
claimant’s “complete medical history, including
arranging for a consultative examination(s) if necessary, and
making every reasonable effort to help [the claimant] get
medical reports from [the claimant’s] own medical
sources.” 20 C.F.R. § 416.945(a)(3). If, upon the
findings of the ALJ, it is determined the claimant retains
the RFC to perform past relevant work, he or she is not
disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(iv).
if the claimant’s RFC does not allow the claimant to
perform past relevant work, the burden of production to show
the claimant maintains the RFC to perform work that exists in
significant numbers in the national economy shifts to the
Commissioner. See Brock v. Astrue, 574 F.3d 1062,
1064 (8th Cir. 2012); 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(v). If
the claimant can make an adjustment to other work that exists
in significant numbers in the national economy, the
Commissioner finds the claimant not disabled. 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.920(a)(4)(v). If the claimant cannot make an
adjustment to other work, the Commissioner finds the claimant
disabled. Id. At Step Five, even though the
burden of production shifts to the Commissioner, the
burden of persuasion to prove disability remains on
the claimant. Hensley, 829 F.3d at 932.
The ALJ’s Decision
One, the ALJ found Al Rubaee had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since May 14, 2015. (Tr. 13). At Step Two,
the ALJ found Al Rubaee suffers from three medically
determinable impairments: (1) mild osteoarthritis /
degenerative joint disease / degenerative disc disease; (2)
depression; and (3) post-traumatic stress disorder. (Tr. 13).
At Step Three, the ALJ concluded Al Rubaee does not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that meets or equals
one of the presumptively disabling impairments listed in the
in beginning the analysis of Step Four, the ALJ determined Al