United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
NANNETTE A. BAKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Evagene Sohn's appeal
regarding the denial of disability insurance benefits and
supplemental security income under the Social Security Act.
The Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this
action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The parties have
consented to the exercise of authority by the United States
Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). [Doc.
8.] The Court has reviewed the parties' briefs and the
entire administrative record, including the transcript and
medical evidence. Based on the following, the Court will
affirm the Commissioner's decision.
asserts that the administrative law judge (“ALJ”)
failed to properly designate her migraine headaches as a
severe impairment. Next, Sohn contends that the ALJ erred by
giving little weight to Dr. Paul Rexroat's medical
opinion. Sohn also contends that the ALJ's residual
functional capacity determination is not supported by medical
evidence; therefore, the vocational expert testimony is not
supported by substantial evidence and cannot be used to
support the finding of no disability. The Commissioner
asserts that the ALJ's decision is supported by
substantial evidence in the record as a whole and should be
Social Security Act defines disability as an “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 has lasted or can
be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than
12 months.” 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i)(1)(A),
Social Security Administration (“SSA”) uses a
five-step analysis to determine whether a claimant seeking
disability benefits is in fact disabled. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(1), 416.920(a)(1). First, the
claimant must not be engaged in substantial gainful activity.
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i), 416.920(a)(4)(i).
Second, the claimant must establish that he or she has an
impairment or combination of impairments that significantly
limits his or her ability to perform basic work activities
and meets the durational requirements of the Act. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4)(ii), 416.920(a)(4)(ii). Third,
the claimant must establish that his or her impairment meets
or equals an impairment listed in the appendix of the
applicable regulations. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(iii), 416.920(a)(4)(iii). If the
claimant's impairments do not meet or equal a listed
impairment, the SSA determines the claimant's residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform past
relevant work. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e),
the claimant must establish that the impairment prevents him
or her from doing past relevant work. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(iv), 416.920(a)(4)(iv). If the claimant meets
this burden, the analysis proceeds to step five. At step
five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to establish the
claimant maintains the RFC to perform a significant number of
jobs in the national economy. Singh v. Apfel, 222
F.3d 448, 451 (8th Cir. 2000). If the claimant satisfied all
of the criteria under the five-step evaluation, the ALJ will
find the claimant to be disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§
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. § 405(g). Substantial evidence is less than a
preponderance, but enough that a reasonable mind would find
adequate support for the ALJ's 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 Commissioner's 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 Commissioner's finding,
the Commissioner's decision must be affirmed.
Masterson v. Barnhart, 363 F.3d 731, 736 (8th Cir.
Court must affirm the Commissioner's 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).
“In this substantial-evidence determination, the entire
administrative record is considered but the evidence is not
reweighed.” Byes v. Astrue, 687 F.3d 913, 915
(8th Cir. 2012).
found that Sohn had the severe impairments of degenerative
disc disease, residuals of fusion, right knee osteoarthritis,
residuals of arthroscopic partial meniscectomy and
chondroplasty, obesity, residuals of left knee meniscectomy,
and residuals of bilateral foot and ankle surgery. The ALJ
noted that there has been no continuous 12 month period of
incapacity associated with any of Sohn's conditions or
any disabling effects from her conditions. She found that the
record demonstrates that Sohn responded well with treatment
and repeatedly reported improvement with no pain. The ALJ
also noted that there was no deterioration in her condition
over a period of time. The ALJ held that Sohn did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that meets or
medically equals the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
determined that Sohn had the RFC to perform sedentary work
with the following limitations: (1) occasionally climb ramps
and stairs, stoop, crouch, and balance; (2) never climb
ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, kneel, or crawl; (3) occasional
exposure to hazards such as unprotected heights and dangerous
machinery; (4) need to alternate between sitting and standing
every hour for 1 to 3 minutes but would remain on task; and
(5) need use of assistive device for prolonged ambulation.
The ALJ then held that Sohn was unable to perform any of her
past relevant work, but considering her age, education, and
work experience, there are jobs in the national economy that
Sohn can perform. Therefore, the ALJ found that Sohn did not
have a disability between her alleged onset date of February
10, 2015 through the date of decision on March 28, 2017.
following reasons, the Court finds that Plaintiff has not met
her burden of proof and the ALJ's decision is supported