United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Eastern Division
John Krause, applied for disability benefits on August 7,
2014, alleging an onset date of July 7, 2014. (Tr. at 13).
His claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration.
Id. After conducting a hearing, the Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ") denied Krause's application.
(Tr. at 22). The Appeals Council denied his request for
review (Tr. at 1), thereby making the ALJ's decision the
final decision of the Commissioner. Krause has requested
reasons stated below, the Court reverses the ALJ's decision
and remands for further review.
The Commissioner's Decision:
found that Krause had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the alleged onset date of July 7, 2014. (Tr.
at 15). At Step Two, the ALJ found that Krause has
the following severe impairments: lumbar degenerative disc
disease with radicular pain down the left leg and hip (status
post discectomy) and depression. Id.
finding that Krause's impairments did not meet or equal a
listed impairment (Tr. at 15), the ALJ determined that Krause
had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
perform sedentary work, except that: (1) he can lift and/or
carry 10 pounds occasionally and less than 10 pounds
frequently; (2) he can stand and/or walk in intervals of 10
minutes for two hours in an eight-hour work period; (3) he
can sit in intervals of 20-30 minutes for six hours in an
eight-hour work period; (4) he can push and/or pull 10 pounds
occasionally and less than 10 pounds frequently; (5) he can
stoop so as to reach knee level or tabletop level; (6) he can
understand, remember, and carry out simple job instructions
and make judgments in simple work-related situations; and (7)
he can respond appropriately to co-workers/supervisors and
respond appropriately to minor changes in usual work routine.
(Tr. at 17).
the ALJ found that Krause was not capable of performing past
relevant work. (Tr. at 20). At Step Five, the ALJ relied on
the testimony of a Vocational Expert (“VE”) to
find that, based on Krause's age, education, work
experience and RFC, jobs existed in significant numbers in
the national economy that he could perform, specifically
production assembler and document preparer. (Tr. at 21).
Based on that determination, the ALJ held that Krause was not
Standard of Review The Court's function on review is to
determine whether the Commissioner's decision is
supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole
and whether it is based on legal error. Miller v.
Colvin, 784 F.3d 472, 477 (8th Cir. 2015); see
also 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). While
“substantial evidence" is that which a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion,
“substantial evidence on the record as a whole"
requires a court to engage in a more scrutinizing analysis:
“[O]ur review is more than an examination of the record
for the existence of substantial evidence in support of the
Commissioner's decision; we also take into account
whatever in the record fairly detracts from that
decision." Reversal is not warranted, however,
“merely because substantial evidence would have
supported an opposite decision."
Reed v. Barnhart, 399 F.3d 917, 920 (8th Cir. 2005)
Krause's Arguments on Appeal
contends that substantial evidence does not support the
ALJ's decision to deny benefits. He argues that: (1) the
ALJ erred in finding Krause less than credible; and (2) the
ALJ ignored relevant medical evidence. The Court agrees that
the ALJ made several errors and therefore, his decision was
not supported by substantial evidence.
suffered long-term pain in his back, which did not fully
resolve, even after Dr. John Campbell, M.D., performed a
right L5-S1 discectomy and laminectomy in May 2010. (Tr. at
388-399). An MRI from just before the surgery showed a focal
disc extrusion at ¶ 5-S1 which was effacing the thecal
sac and displacing the right nerve root laterally. (Tr. at
377-378). An MRI from June 2010 showed multiple levels of
chronic degenerative posterior facet joint effusions with no
significant nerve root impingement. (Tr. at 387). At a
January 24, 2011 visit with Dr. Campbell, Krause complained
of a debilitating burning sensation in his right leg. ...