United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
W. SIPPEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Betsy Markhart-Collier brings this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3), seeking judicial
review of the Commissioner's decision denying
Markhart-Collier's application for supplemental security
income and disability insurance. Because the Commissioner
sufficiently considered plaintiff's subjective
complaints, and the decision is supported by substantial
evidence on the record as a whole, I will affirm the
April 22, 2014, plaintiff filed an application for
supplemental security income pursuant to Title XVI, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1381 et seq., and an application for a period of
disability and disability insurance benefits, pursuant to
Title II, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401 et seq. [Tr., ECF Doc.
No. 12, at 13] In both applications, plaintiff alleged
November 8, 2013, as the onset date of her disability.
claims were denied on initial consideration. [Id.]
On March 31, 2016, and July 19, 2016, the Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) and plaintiff conducted video
hearings. [Id.] The ALJ also determined that the
claimant was not disabled from the date of disability through
the date of the ALJ's decision. [Id.]
Plaintiff's subsequent appeal to the Appeals Council was
denied. [Id.] Plaintiff has now sought judicial
action for judicial review, plaintiff contends that the ALJ
erred in his determination of her residual functioning
capacity (RFC) by failing to properly consider her subjective
complaints. Plaintiff asks that I reverse the ALJ's final
decision and remand the matter for further consideration.
Medical Records and Other Evidence Before the ALJ
respect to the medical records and other evidence of record,
I adopt plaintiff's recitation of facts set forth in her
Statement of Uncontroverted Material Facts [ECF Doc. No. 19,
pp. 1-41] insofar as they are admitted by the Commissioner. I
also adopt the additional facts set forth in the
Commissioner's Statement of Additional Material Facts
[ECF Doc. No. 28-2], as they are unrefuted by plaintiff.
Additional specific facts will be discussed as needed to
address the parties' arguments.
entitled to disability benefits, a claimant must prove that
she is unable to perform any substantial gainful activity due
to a medically-determinable physical or mental impairment
that would either result in death or which has lasted or
could be expected to last for at least twelve continuous
months. 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(a)(1)(D), (d)(1)(a). To
determine whether claimants are disabled, the Commissioner
evaluates their claims through five sequential steps. 20.
C.F.R. § 404.1520; Pate-Fires v. Astrue, 564
F.3d 935, 942 (8th Cir. 2009) (describing the five-step
one through three require that the claimant prove (1) she is
not currently engaged in substantial gainful activity, (2)
she suffers from a severe impairment, and (3) her disability
meets or equals a listed impairment. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4)(i)-(iii). If the claimant does not suffer from
a listed impairment or its equivalent, the Commissioner's
analysis proceeds to steps four and five. Step four requires
the Commissioner to consider whether the claimant retains the
RFC to perform her past relevant work (PRW). Id. at
§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iv). The claimant bears the burden of
demonstrating she is no longer able to return to her PRW.
Pate-Fires, 564 F.3d at 942. If the Commissioner
determines the claimant cannot return to PRW, the burden
shifts to the Commissioner at step five to show the claimant
retains the residual functioning capacity (RFC) to perform
other jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national
economy. Id.; 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(v).
is required to evaluate the credibility of a claimant's
testimony, including the claimant's subjective complaints
of pain, prior to determining her RFC. Holmstrom v.
Massanari, 270 F.3d 715, 721 (8th Cir. 2001). In so
doing, the ALJ is not permitted to ignore the claimant's
testimony even if it is inconsistent with objective medical
evidence. Basinger v. Heckler, 725 F.2d 1166, 1169
(8th Cir. 1984). After considering the claimant's
testimony, the ALJ may disbelieve it if it is inconsistent
with the record as a whole. Battles v. Sullivan, 902
F.2d 657, 660 (8th Cir. 1990). To properly evaluate the
claimant's subjective complaints, the ALJ must consider
the factors enumerated in Polaski v. Heckler:
[The] claimant's prior work record, and observations by
third parties and treating and examining physicians relating
to such matters as: (1) the claimant's daily activities;
(2) the duration, frequency, and intensity of the pain; (3)
precipitating and aggravating factors; (4) dosage,
effectiveness and side effects of medication; and (5)
739 F.2d 1320, 1322 (8th Cir. 1984). While the ALJ must
consider the Polaski factors, he need not enumerate
them specifically. Wildman v. Astrue, 596 F.3d 959,
968 (8th Cir. 2010). When the ALJ explicitly disbelieves the
claimant's testimony and gives good reasons for his
disbelief, a reviewing court will typically defer to the
ALJ's finding. Casey v. Astrue, 503 F.3d 687,
696 (8th Cir. 2007). The ALJ retains the responsibility to
develop the record fully and fairly in the ...