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Commissioner of Social Security,1


Case No. 12-4225-CV-DPR



An Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied Social Security Disability Insurance

Benefits and Supplemental Security Income to Plaintiff Ronald Moore in a decision dated March

18, 2011 (Tr. 21-31). The Appeals Counsel denied review. Thus, the ALJ’s decision became the

Commissioner of Social Security’s final decision denying benefits. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); 20

C.F.R. § 404.981; 20 C.F.R. § 416.1481. For the reasons set forth below, the decision of the

Commissioner of Social Security is AFFIRMED.


Judicial review of a denial of disability benefits is limited to whether there is substantial

evidence on the record as a whole to support the Social Security Administration’s decision. 42

U.S.C. § 405(g); Minor v. Astrue, 574 F.3d 625, 627 (8th Cir. 2009). Substantial evidence is

“‘such evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.’”

1 The proper defendant in an appeal of a denial of Social Security benefits is the Commissioner
of Social Security. Carolyn W. Colvin became the Acting Commissioner of Social Security on
February 14, 2013. Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 25(d), Carolyn W. Colvin is substituted for the
Social Security Administration as defendant in this action.

Case 2:12-cv-04225-DPR Document 23 Filed 09/20/13 Page 1 of 3

Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (quoting Consolidated Edison Co. V. NLRB,

305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). “Substantial evidence on the record as a whole,” however, requires a

more exacting analysis, which also takes into account “whatever in the record fairly detracts

from its weight.” Minor, 574 F.3d at 627 (quoting Wilson v. Sullivan, 886 F.2d 172, 175 (8th Cir.

1989)). Thus, where it is possible to draw two inconsistent conclusions from the evidence, and

one conclusion represents the ALJ’s findings, a court must affirm the decision. See Robinson v.

Sullivan, 956 F.2d 836, 838 (8th Cir. 1992) (citing Cruse v. Bowen, 867 F.2d 1183, 1184 (8th

Cir. 1989)). In other words, a court should not disturb an ALJ’s denial of benefits if the decision

“falls within the available zone of choice.” Buckner v. Astrue, 646 F.3d 549, 556 (8th Cir. 2011).

A decision may fall within the “zone of choice” even where the court “might have reached a

different conclusion had [the court] been the initial finder of fact.” Id. (quoting Bradley v. Astrue,

528 F.3d 1113, 1115 (8th Cir. 2008)). A reviewing court is directed to “defer heavily to the

findings and conclusions” of the Social Security Administration. Howard v. Massanari, 255 F.3d

577, 581 (8th Cir. 2001).


The operative facts and arguments are thoroughly presented in the parties’ briefs and will

not be duplicated here. Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in failing to properly consider whether

the claimant met listing 12.05C for mental retardation; failing to properly evaluate the opinion

evidence in the record; and failing to properly consider the claimant’s subjective complaints of

pain (Doc. 16). The Court has thoroughly reviewed the claimant’s medical records, the opinion

evidence, hearing testimony, and the ALJ’s opinion, and finds that the ALJ’s determinations are

based upon substantial evidence on the record as a whole.

The ALJ’s written opinion reflects that he did evaluate the claimant’s intellectual

Case 2:12-cv-04225-DPR Document 23 Filed 09/20/13 Page 2 of 3


functioning according to listing 12.05, and found that the claimant did not meet both the IQ and

other-functional-limitation requirement of paragraph C. The ALJ also found that the claimant

did not meet the requirements of any other subparagraph of listing 12.05. Review of the record

reveals that substantial evidence exists to support these findings. Furthermore, the ALJ

thoroughly discussed the opinion evidence in the record, and he supported his determination that

the claimant’s statements were not fully credible by citing to inconsistencies between the

claimant’s subjective complaints and the medical and other evidence in the record. Despite the

existence of some evidence in the record that may support the opposite conclusion, the Court

finds that the record as a whole reflects substantial evidence to support the ALJ’s decision.

Taken together, the ALJ’s determinations fall within the acceptable “zone of choice” of the

finder of fact, to which the court gives great deference. Accordingly, the Court will not disturb

the ALJ’s denial of benefits.

Therefore, based on all the foregoing, IT IS ORDERED that the decision of the

Commissioner of Social Security is AFFIRMED.


DATED: September 19, 2013

United States Magistrate Judge

/s/ David P. Rush

Case 2:12-cv-04225-DPR Document 23 Filed 09/20/13 Page 3 of 3