Anderson v. Colvin
ORDER affirming the Commissioner's decision re 1 SOCIAL SECURITY COMPLAINT. Signed on 9/27/2017 by District Judge Roseann Ketchmark. (Perry, Madison)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
WILLIAM NELSON ANDERSON,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN,
ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SSA1;
Before the Court is Plaintiff’s appeal seeking judicial review of a final decision of the
Defendant Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying disability benefits. The
decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.
Standard of Review
The Court’s review of the Commissioner’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)); see also
42 U.S.C. § 405(g). “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
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 both supports and detracts
from the Administrative Law Judge’s (“ALJ”) findings. Cline v. Colvin, 771 F.3d 1098, 1102
(8th Cir. 2014) (quotation marks 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) (quoting Davis, 239 F.3d at 966). The Court does not re-weigh the evidence
Nancy A. Berryhill became the Acting Commissioner of Social Security on January 23, 2017,
however, for consistency purposes, the case style in this action remains as originally filed.
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 should “defer
heavily to the findings and conclusions of the [Commissioner].” Hurd v. Astrue, 621 F.3d 734,
738 (8th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted).
By way of overview, the ALJ determined Plaintiff suffers from the following severe
impairments: obesity, osteoarthritis of the left knee with a history of remote surgery, hip
dysplasia, and lumbar degenerative disc disease. The ALJ also determined that Plaintiff has the
following non-severe impairments: hypertension and bipolar disorder. However, the ALJ found
that none of the 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
Additionally, the ALJ found that despite his limitations, Plaintiff retained the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work with the following limitations:
claimant is limited to lifting twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently; sit for six
hours out of an eight hour workday, with normal breaks; can never climb ladders, ropes, or
scaffolds; never crawl, kneel, or crouch; and only occasionally perform all other postural
functions. The ALJ found that Plaintiff has no past relevant work, but that Plaintiff can perform
jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy.
On appeal, Plaintiff raises the following issues: (1) whether the ALJ properly determined
Plaintiff’s RFC, including whether the ALJ properly evaluated Plaintiff’s obesity, and (2)
whether the subsequent favorable decision awarding benefits is new and material evidence
In assessing Plaintiff’s RFC, the ALJ properly considered and weighed the available
medical opinion evidence. See Wildman v. Astrue, 596 F.3d 959, 969 (8th Cir. 2010) (an ALJ
must assess a claimant’s RFC based on all relevant evidence).2
Next, the ALJ properly
The ALJ sufficiently considered Plaintiff’s obesity. Neither the Plaintiff’s testimony nor the
medical records suggest Plaintiff’s obesity would impact the Plaintiff’s ability to maintain employment.
See McNamara v. Astrue, 590 F.3d 607, 611 (8th Cir. 2010) (“While obesity can impose a significant
work-related limitation, substantial evidence supports the ALJ’s rejection of McNamara’s claim…nothing
in McNamara’s medical records indicate a physician ever placed physical limitations…because of her
obesity”); Heino v. Astrue, 578 F.3d 873, 881-82 (8th Cir. 2009) (where the ALJ specifically considered
Plaintiff’s obesity and found Plaintiff was not disabled, the Court determined reversal was unwarranted);
Wright v. Colvin, 789 F.3d 847, 855 (8th Cir. 2015) (The Court affirmed the ALJ’s analysis where the
determined Plaintiff’s subsequent favorable decision does not warrant remand or reversal
because there is no new and material evidence.3 Upon careful consideration, this Court finds that
substantial evidence supports the ALJ’s decision.
Having carefully reviewed the record before the Court and the parties’ submissions on
appeal, the Court concludes that substantial evidence on the record as a whole supports the ALJ’s
IT IS THEREFORE, ORDERED that the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.
s/ Roseann A. Ketchmark
ROSEANN A. KETCHMARK, JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DATED: September 27, 2017
ALJ considered the combined effects of Plaintiff’s impairments with Plaintiff’s obesity when determining
New evidence can form the basis for a remand if the new evidence is material. To be
considered “material,” the new evidence must be “non-cumulative, relevant, and probative of Plaintiff’s
condition for the time period for which benefits were denied.” Hepp v. Astrue, 511 F.3d 798, 808 (8th
Cir. 2008) (emphasis added). Here, the ALJ’s decision was issued on September 8, 2015. Subsequently,
on February 20, 2017, Plaintiff was awarded disability benefits from an onset date of December 6, 2016.
Thus, in this case the subsequent disability determination began over a year after the ALJ’s
September 8, 2015 decision.
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