United States District Court, D. Nebraska
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. GERRARD CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the denial, initially and upon
reconsideration, of plaintiff Cadero King's application
for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq.
and supplemental social security income benefits under Title
XVI of the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1381 et
seq. The Court has considered the parties'
filings and the administrative record. The Court finds that
the record supports the Commissioner's decision to deny
benefits, and will affirm that decision.
applied for disability insurance benefits on November 30,
2017. T197, T204. His claims were based on anxiety, chronic
headaches, chronic back pain, and chronic neck pain. T57,
T76. Those claims were denied initially on March 6, 2018, and
upon reconsideration on April 18. T137-44, T148-55. King
appealed and requested a hearing from a Social Security
judge. T157. The Social Security judge held a hearing on
September 20. T26.
October 17, 2018 decision, the Social Security judge noted
that King had previously applied for benefits in 2012, 2015,
and 2016, and been denied, T11. But King had alleged an onset
date in his 2017 application of October 1, 2012-so, the
Social Security judge inferred, King was impliedly asking to
reopen his prior applications. T11. The Social Security judge
found no basis to reopen any of King's prior
applications, however. See Efinchuk v.
Astrue, 480 F.3d 846, 848 (8th Cir. 2007). So the Social
Security judge considered whether King was disabled as of
March 8, 2017-the day following his previous denial-but found
that King wasn't disabled as defined in the Social
Security Act, and therefore wasn't entitled to benefits.
for purposes of the Social Security Act, is defined as the
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 which
has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period
of not less than 12 months. 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i)
determine whether a claimant is entitled to disability
benefits, the Social Security judge performs a five-step
sequential analysis. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4). At step
one, the claimant has the burden to establish that he
hasn't engaged in substantial gainful activity since his
alleged disability onset date. Cuthrell v. Astrue,
702 F.3d 1114, 1116 (8th Cir. 2013). If the claimant has
engaged in substantial gainful activity, he will be found not
to be disabled; otherwise, at step two, he has the burden to
prove he has a medically determinable physical or mental
impairment or combination of impairments that significantly
limits his physical or mental ability to perform basic work
three, if the claimant shows that his impairment meets or
equals a presumptively disabling impairment listed in the
regulations, he is automatically found disabled and is
entitled to benefits. Id. Otherwise, the analysis
proceeds to step four. But first, the Social Security judge
must determine the claimant's residual functional
capacity, which is used at steps four and five. 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(a)(4). A claimant's residual functional
capacity is what he can do despite the limitations caused by
any mental or physical impairments. Toland v.
Colvin, 761 F.3d 931, 935 (8th Cir. 2014). At step four,
the claimant has the burden to prove he lacks the residual
functional capacity to perform his past relevant work.
Cuthrell, 702 F.3d at 1116. If the claimant can
still do his past relevant work, he will be found not to be
disabled; otherwise, at step five, the burden shifts to the
Commissioner to prove, considering the claimant's
residual functional capacity, age, education, and work
experience, that there are other jobs in the national economy
the claimant can perform. Id.; Jones v.
Astrue, 619 F.3d 963, 971 (8th Cir. 2010).
Social Security Judge's Findings
one, the Social Security judge found that King hadn't
engaged in substantial gainful activity since the disability
date of March 8, 2017. T14. At step two, the Social Security
judge found that King had three severe impairments: anxiety,
depression, and schizophrenia. T14. But at step three, the
Social Security judge found that King's impairments
didn't meet or equal a presumptively disabling
impairment. T14-16. So, the Social Security judge determined
King's residual functional capacity as follows:
The claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform
a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the
following nonexertional limitations: he is unable to work
with the general public. He can get along appropriately with
coworkers and supervisors under normal supervision. He can
understand, remember, and carry out short and simple
instructions. He cannot perform work around more than 10
people. He is able to maintain attention and concentration
for extended periods for doing simple work. He is capable of
handling his own finances. He can perform activities within a
schedule, maintaining regular attendance and punctuality. He
can maintain an ordinary routine without special supervision.
He is able to respond appropriately to changes in work
setting and be aware of normal hazards and take appropriate
T17. Based on that residual functional capacity, at step
four, the Social Security judge found that King couldn't
perform his past relevant work. T19. But the Social Security
judge found that King was able to perform jobs that exist in
significant numbers in the national economy. T20.
Accordingly, the Social Security judge found that King
wasn't under a disability as defined in the Social
Security Act. T21.
December 11, 2018, the Appeals Council of the Social Security
Administration denied King's request for review. T1.
King's complaint (filing 1) seeks review of the Social
Security judge's decision as the final ...