United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
ORDER REVERSING THE ALJ'S DECISION AND REMANDING
ROSEANN A. KETCHMARK, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
the Court is Plaintiff's appeal brought under 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) seeking review of Defendant Commissioner of
Social Security Administration's (“SSA”)
denial of disability benefits as rendered in a decision by an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). For the reasons
below, the decision of the ALJ is REVERSED,
and the case is REMANDED.
Court's review of the ALJ's decision to deny
disability benefits is limited to determining if the decision
“complies with the relevant legal requirements and is
supported by substantial evidence in the record as a
whole.” Halverson v. Astrue, 600 F.3d 922, 929
(8th Cir. 2010) (quoting Ford v. Astrue, 518 F.3d
979, 981 (8th Cir. 2008)). “Substantial evidence is
less than a preponderance of the evidence, but is ‘such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind would find adequate to
support the [ALJ's] conclusion.'” Grable v.
Colvin, 770 F.3d 1196, 1201 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Davis v. Apfel, 239 F.3d 962, 966 (8th Cir. 2001)).
In determining whether existing evidence is substantial, the
Court takes into account “evidence that detracts from
the [ALJ's] decision as well as evidence that supports
it.” Cline v. Colvin, 771 F.3d 1098, 1102 (8th
Cir. 2014) (citation omitted). “If the ALJ's
decision is supported by substantial evidence, [the Court]
may not reverse even if substantial evidence would support
the opposite outcome or [the Court] would have decided
differently.” Smith v. Colvin, 756 F.3d 621,
625 (8th Cir. 2014) (citing Davis v. Apfel, 239 F.3d
962, 966 (8th Cir. 2001)). The Court does not “re-weigh
the evidence presented to the ALJ.” Guilliams v.
Barnhart, 393 F.3d 798, 801 (8th Cir. 2005) (citing
Baldwin v. Barnhart, 349 F.3d 549, 555 (8th Cir.
2003)). The Court must “defer heavily to the findings
and conclusions of the [ALJ].” Hurd v. Astrue,
621 F.3d 734, 738 (8th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted).
of overview, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has severe
impairments of posttraumatic stress disorder
(“PTSD”), anxiety, depressive disorder, and
tremors. However, the ALJ found that none of Plaintiff's
impairments, whether considered alone or in combination, meet
or medically equal the criteria of one of the listed
impairments in 20 CFR Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App. 1
(“Listing”). Additionally, the ALJ found that
despite Plaintiff's limitations, he retained the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light
with the following limitations:
[H]e can lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds
frequently. He can stand or walk 6 hours and sit 6 hours in
an 8-hour workday. He can frequently handle and finger. He
can perform simple and routine tasks in an unskilled work
setting where no more than occasional changes are required.
He cannot interact with the public in the performance of his
job duties. He can occasionally interact with coworkers and
(Tr. 14.) The ALJ then found that, considering
Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC, he
can perform jobs that exist in significant numbers in the
national economy, such as the jobs of advertising materials
distributor, cleaner/housekeeper, and marker. Consequently,
the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not disabled.
appeal, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ (1) failed to address
certain limitations in his treating physician's opinion
and (2) improperly discounted Plaintiff's subjective
reports about his symptoms. The Court agrees.
Treating Physician's Opinion
treating psychiatrist, Rubin Moore, M.D., opined that
Plaintiff was limited as follows because of his unspecified
bipolar disorder, PTSD, and generalized anxiety disorder:
• He would miss approximately four days of work per
• He would likely be off task for even simple tasks 25%
or more of the time.
• He is “markedly limited” (meaning there is
a serious interference with independent functioning) in his
ability “to complete a normal workday and workweek
without interruption from psychologically based
symptoms” and in his ability “to perform at a