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Vance v. Berryhill

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

June 27, 2017

Patricia Jane Vance, Plaintiff- Appellant,
v.
Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, [1] Defendant-Appellee.

          Submitted: November 17, 2016

         Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Nebraska - Omaha

          Before COLLOTON, BEAM, and GRUENDER, Circuit Judges.

          COLLOTON, Circuit Judge.

         Patricia Vance appeals a judgment of the district court[2] upholding the Social Security Commissioner's denial of her application for supplemental security income. We affirm.

         I.

         Vance applied for supplemental security income under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1382, based on a nerve disorder. She claimed a disability onset date of January 1, 2010, but later amended it to October 3, 2011. The Social Security Administration denied Vance's claim initially and on reconsideration. After a hearing in July 2013, an Administrative Law Judge, applying the familiar five-step process under the regulations, found that Vance was not disabled. See Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140-42 (1987); 20 C.F.R. § 416.920 (2011).

         The ALJ determined at step one that Vance had not engaged in "substantial gainful activity" since October 3, 2011, the application date. At step two, he determined that Vance suffered from severe impairments-inherited myelopathy versus conversion disorder, adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood, and borderline intellectual functioning. At step three, however, the ALJ concluded that these impairments did not meet the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (2011).

         Before proceeding to steps four and five, the ALJ determined Vance's residual functional capacity. The judge concluded that Vance had the capacity "to perform a range of work activity that: requires no more than a sedentary level of physical exertion; accommodates the use of a walker; and involves only unskilled, simple, routine, and repetitive" tasks. Relying on testimony of a vocational expert, the ALJ found that despite these limitations, Vance was able to perform jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy. Based on this analysis, the ALJ concluded that Vance was not disabled and denied her application. The Appeals Council denied review, and the district court upheld the ALJ's decision.

         Vance appeals, citing three alleged errors: (1) that the ALJ failed to explain adequately his decision that Vance did not meet any of the Listing 11.00 impairments, (2) that substantial evidence did not support the ALJ's conclusion that Vance did not meet Listing 12.05C, and (3) that the ALJ failed to give controlling weight to the opinion of Vance's treating physician.

         We review the district court's judgment de novo, considering evidence that both supports and detracts from the ALJ's conclusion. We will affirm if substantial evidence on the record as a whole supports the Commissioner's determination. Julin v. Colvin, 826 F.3d 1082, 1086 (8th Cir. 2016). "Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance, but enough that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the ALJ's decision." Gonzales v. Barnhart, 465 F.3d 890, 894 (8th. Cir. 2006).

         II.

         Vance argues that the ALJ failed to point to specific evidence to support its step-three conclusion that she did not meet any of the requirements of Listing 11.00. This Listing enumerates several categories of neurological impairments, such as epilepsy, brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Vance also argues that the ALJ's discussion of her neurological impairments in step four was inadequate because it was too cursory and one-sided. Vance asks us to remand so that the ALJ can provide a more detailed analysis of this Listing.

         In step three, the ALJ did not discuss any particular Listing 11.00 neurological impairment, but he did address the Listing overall. The judge stated that in reaching the conclusion that Vance did not meet the Listings, "the undersigned has appropriately evaluated medical and other evidence pertaining to the claimant's medically determinable impairments in conjunction with all the relevant severity criteria contained within the 1.00 ...


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