United States District Court, D. Minnesota
E. Osterhout, Osterhout Disability Law, LLC, & Edward C.
Olson, Disability Attorneys of Minnesota, (for Plaintiff);
Samie & Tracey Wirmani, Assistant United States
Attorneys, United States Attorney (for Defendant).
N. Leung United States Magistrate Judge
Michael S. challenges Defendant Commissioner of Social
Security's denial of his application for supplemental
security income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1381. The parties have
consented to a final judgment from the undersigned United
States Magistrate Judge in accordance with 28 U.S.C. §
636(c) and D. Minn. LR 7.2. This matter is before the Court
on the parties' cross motions for summary judgment. For
the reasons set forth below, the Court denies Plaintiff's
motion and grants Defendant's motion.
filed an action for SSI on April 21, 2014, alleging a
disability onset date of the same day. Plaintiff alleges
impairments of: anti-social personality disorder, bi-polar
disorder, borderline intellectual functioning, anxiety, and
sleep apnea. Plaintiff was found not disabled on September
16, 2014. That finding was affirmed upon reconsideration.
Plaintiff then requested a hearing before an Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”). A hearing was held on December
7, 2016 and, on January 6, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision
denying Plaintiff's claim for benefits. Plaintiff sought
review of the ALJ's decision through the Appeals Council,
which denied his request for review. Plaintiff now seeks
review by this Court.
Administrative Hearing and ALJ Decision
ALJ found that Plaintiff had the severe impairments of:
anti-social personality disorder, bipolar/cyclothymic
disorder, and borderline intellectual functioning. (Tr. 13).
The ALJ further found and concluded that Plaintiff does 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. pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 1. (Tr.
13-14). The ALJ considered Listings 12.02 (neurocognitive
disorders), 12.04 (depressive, bipolar, and related
disorders), and 12.08 (personality and impulse control
disorders). (Tr. 13-14). Following this, the ALJ found
Plaintiff to have the residual functioning capacity
(“RFC”) to perform a full range of work at all
exertional levels, but with the following non-exertional
moderate noise level; limited to performing simple, routine
and repetitive tasks and using judgment is limited to simple
worker related decisions; contacts with coworkers,
supervisors, and the general public would be brief and
superficial such that work is rated no lower than 8 on people
scale of appendix B to Dictionary of Occupational titles,
1991 revised edition; work could be learned in one month; and
performance of job duties in ordinary course would not
provide ready access to alcohol or controlled substances.
(Tr. 15). The ALJ then concluded Plaintiff had no past
relevant work, but that there were jobs that existed in
significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff
could perform. (Tr. 22-23). In particular, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiff could work as a general cleaner, kitchen
helper, and night cleaner. (Tr. 23). Accordingly, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff was not disabled since April 21, 2014.
benefits are available to individuals who are determined to
be under a disability. 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(a)(1)(E),
1381a; accord 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.315,
416.901. An individual is considered to be disabled if he or
she is unable “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
which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous
period of not less” than 12 months. 42 U.S.C.
§§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A); see also
20 C.F.R. § 404.1505(a). This standard is met when a
severe physical or mental impairment, or impairments, renders
the individual unable to do his or her previous work or
“any other kind of substantial gainful work which
exists in the national economy” when taking into
account his or her age, education, and work experience. 42
U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(2)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(B); see
also 20 C.F.R. § 404.1505(a). Disability is
determined according to a five-step, sequential evaluation
process. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4),
416.920(a)(4). The ALJ must consider whether:
(1) the claimant was employed; (2) she was severely impaired;
(3) her impairment was, or was comparable to, a listed
impairment; (4) she could perform past relevant work; and if
not, (5) whether she could perform any other kind of work.
Halverson v. Astrue, 600 F.3d 922, 929 (8th Cir.
2010) (citing 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4),
416.920(a)). In general, the burden of proving the existence
of disability lies with the claimant. Thomas v.
Sullivan, 928 F.2d 255, 260 (8th Cir. 1991); 20 C.F.R.
Court reviews whether the ALJ's decision is supported by
substantial evidence in the record as a whole. 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g); Boettcher v. Astrue, 652 F.3d 860,
863 (8th Cir. 2011) (citing Harris v. Barnhart, 356
F.3d 926, 928 (8th Cir. 2004)). “Substantial evidence
means less than a preponderance but enough that a reasonable
person would find it adequate to support the decision.”
Boettcher, 652 F.3d at 863 (citing Guilliams v.
Barnhart, 393 F.3d 798, 801 (8th Cir. 2005)). This
standard requires the Court to “consider the evidence
that both supports and ...