United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Central Division
JILL R. HALLOWELL-PETRICH, Plaintiff,
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
ORDER AND OPINION AFFIRMING COMMISSIONER'S FINAL
DECISION DENYING BENEFITS
D. SMITH, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
is Plaintiff's appeal of the Commissioner of Social
Security's final decision denying her applications for a
period of disability, disability insurance benefits, and
supplemental security income. For the following reasons, the
Commissioner's decision is affirmed.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court's review of the Commissioner's decision is
limited to a determination of whether the decision is
“supported by substantial evidence on the record as a
whole. Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance
but…enough that a reasonable mind would find it
adequate to support the conclusion.” Andrews v.
Colvin, 791 F.3d 923, 928 (8th Cir. 2015) (citations
omitted). “As long as substantial evidence in the
record supports the Commissioner's decision, we may not
reverse it because substantial evidence exists in the record
that would have supported a contrary outcome, or because we
would have decided the case differently.” Cline v.
Colvin, 771 F.3d 1098, 1102 (8th Cir. 2014) (citation
omitted). Though advantageous to the Commissioner, this
standard also requires the Court consider evidence that
fairly detracts from the final decision. Anderson v.
Astrue, 696 F.3d 790, 793 (8th Cir. 2015) (citation
omitted). Substantial evidence means “more than a mere
scintilla” of evidence; it is relevant evidence a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion. Gragg v. Astrue, 615 F.3d 932, 938 (8th
was born in 1967 and has a bachelor's degree in
management. R. at 44, 179, 182, 502, 504, 584. She previously
worked as a real estate agent, administrative manager, and
sales promotion representative. R. at 90-94, 584. In October
2012, Plaintiff applied for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits, alleging a disability onset
date of August 1, 2002. R. at 502-03. In May 2013, she
applied for supplemental security income, alleging a
disability onset date of March 1, 2012. R. at 504-10.
Plaintiff later amended her disability onset date to May 8,
2014. R. at 12, 42, 183, 234. In January 2013,
Plaintiff's applications were denied. R. at 230, 288-92.
She requested a hearing before an administrative law judge
(“ALJ”). R. 293-94.
hearing was held in February 2015. R. at 174-207. In May
2015, ALJ Janice E. Barnes-Williams issued a decision,
finding Plaintiff is not disabled. R. at 234-44. Plaintiff
appealed the ALJ's decision. The Appeals Council vacated
the ALJ's decision (pursuant to the new and material
evidence provision of the Social Security
Administration's regulations) and remanded the matter. R.
September 2016, another hearing was held. R. at 104-73. In
January 2017, ALJ Stephan Bell issued his decision, finding
Plaintiff is not disabled. R. at 260-73. Plaintiff appealed
the ALJ's decision. The Appeals Counsel vacated the
ALJ's decision because the ALJ did not grant
Plaintiff's request for a supplemental hearing, and the
Appeals Council remanded the matter again. R. at 285-86.
March 2018, yet another hearing was held. R. at 38-103. In
May 2018 ALJ Bell issued his decision, finding Plaintiff is
not disabled. R. at 12-26. The ALJ concluded Plaintiff has
the following severe impairments: “degenerative disc
disease (lumbar, thoracic, and cervical spine), facet
osteoarthritis, right shoulder AC joint arthrosis,
sacroiliitis, mild right ankle osteoarthritis and
tenosynovitis status post surgeries, migraines, neuropathy,
and obesity.” R. at 15. The ALJ determined Plaintiff
has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to:
[P]erform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b) except she can frequently climb ladders, ropes,
scaffolds, ramps, and stairs, as well as frequently balance,
stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. She can frequently reach
overhead and in all other directions and frequently finger
and handle with the left and right upper extremities. She can
frequently work at unprotected heights and around moving
mechanical parts, frequently operate a motor vehicle as a job
duty, and frequently work in humidity and wetness, dust,
odors, fumes, pulmonary irritants, extreme cold, extreme
heat, and vibration.
R. at 18. Based on the RFC and the vocational expert's
(“VE”) testimony at the hearing, the ALJ
concluded Plaintiff can perform past relevant work as a sales
promotion representative, real estate agent, and
administrative manager. R. at 25-26. Plaintiff unsuccessfully
appealed the decision to the Appeals Council. R. at 1-3.
Plaintiff now appeals to this Court.
argues this matter must be reversed because the ALJ failed to
(a) properly determine her RFC, and (b) ...