United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
NANNETTE A. BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Juanita Magness' 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.
7.] 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's
(“ALJ”) residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) determination is not supported by
substantial evidence because the ALJ improperly weighed the
opinion testimony of treating and examining physicians and
failed to properly evaluate her credibility. 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 Magness met the insured requirements of the Social
Security Act through December 31, 2019 and that she has not
engaged in in any substantial gainful activity since December
23, 2014, the alleged onset date of disability. Magness
alleged disability due to osteoarthritis, sacroiliitis, high
blood pressure, arthritis in the right knee, vision
impairment, weight bearing joints in the knee, back problems
in the lumbar spine, anemia, high cholesterol, irritive
colon, and lupus. The ALJ held that Magness had the severe
impairments of degenerative disc disease of the cervical and
lumbar spine, sacroiliitis, obesity, osteoarthritis, and
right knee meniscus tear. She found that Magness did not have
an impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled the severity of listed impairments in 20
C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P of Appendix 1.
the ALJ determined that Magness had the RFC to perform
sedentary work with the following limitations: (1)
occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, kneel, stoop,
crouch, and crawl; (2) never climb ladders, ropes, or
scaffolds; (3) no exposure to hazards such as unprotected
heights and moving mechanical parts; and (4) no positions
that require the operation of a motor vehicle. Because of the
limitations of the RFC, the ALJ found that Magness could not
perform her past relevant work as a home nurse aide, nurse
assistant, or production worker. Based on her age, education,
work experience, and the RFC, the ALJ found that there were
jobs in the national economy that Magness could perform as a
hand assembler, table worker, and machine tender. Therefore,
the ALJ found that Magness has not been under a disability
from September 23, 2014 through the date of the decision.
contends that the RFC determination is not supported by
substantial evidence, because the ALJ improperly weighed the
medical opinion evidence and did not properly evaluate her
credibility. The RFC is defined as what the claimant can do
despite his or her limitations, and includes an assessment of
physical abilities and mental impairments. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1545(a), 416.945(a). The RFC is a
function-by-function assessment of an individual's
ability to do work related activities on a regular and
continuing basis. SSR 96-8p, 1996 WL 374184, at *1 (July 2,
1996). It is the ALJ's responsibility to determine the
claimant's RFC based on all relevant evidence, including
medical records, observations of treating physicians and the
claimant's own descriptions of his limitations.
Pearsall, 274 F.3d at 1217. 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.
asserts that the ALJ improperly weighed the medical opinions
of her treating physician Dr. Jarrod Drab and ...