Winn v. Commissioner, Social Security Administration, 070618 FED8, 17-1987

Docket Nº:17-1987
Party Name:Mike L. Winn Plaintiff- Appellant v. Commissioner, Social Security Administration Defendant-Appellee
Judge Panel:Before LOKEN, BENTON, and ERICKSON, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:July 06, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Mike L. Winn Plaintiff- Appellant


Commissioner, Social Security Administration Defendant-Appellee

No. 17-1987

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

July 6, 2018

          Submitted: February 15, 2018

          Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri - Jefferson City

          Before LOKEN, BENTON, and ERICKSON, Circuit Judges.


         Mike L. Winn applied for Social Security disability insurance benefits between June 12, 2007, the alleged disability onset date, and December 31, 2012, his "date last insured." See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.130, 404.131, 404.315(a). During Winn's prior appeal from the denial of benefits after an administrative hearing, we granted the Commissioner's motion to remand for consideration of additional evidence from Winn's treating physician and reassessment of his residual functional capacity (RFC). On remand, the Commissioner's Appeals Council consolidated a second application Winn filed in December 2012 and remanded the combined proceedings to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to consider additional evidence, redetermine Winn's RFC, and solicit testimony from a vocational expert (VE). After a hearing at which Winn and a VE testified, a second ALJ denied Winn's application for benefits. Winn petitioned for judicial review. After thorough review, the district court1 upheld the Commissioner's denial of disability benefits, concluding that the ALJ's decision is supported by substantial evidence on the administrative record as a whole. Winn appeals. We apply that same standard and affirm. See Van Vickle v. Astrue, 539 F.3d 825, 828 (8th Cir. 2008) (standard of review).

         Applying the five-step process defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a), the ALJ found that, during the period in question, Winn suffered from severe but non-listed impairments -- degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine, carpal tunnel syndrome, and neuropathy. After considering the entire record including additional evidence from Winn's treating physician, the ALJ found that his RFC as of the date last insured was -- to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except that he could lift and/or carry and push and/or pull up to 10 pounds occasionally and 5 pounds frequently; he could stand and walk up to 6 hours in an 8hour workday and sit up to 6 hours in an 8-hour workday; he could n[ot] climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds; he could occasionally climb ramps and stairs; he could occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl; he could frequently reach, but could only occasionally reach overhead; he could frequently handle, finger and feel; and he needed to avoid hazards such as dangerous moving machinery or unprotected heights.

         Based on this RFC, the ALJ found that Winn could not perform his past relevant work, which was operating heavy equipment at a Missouri rock quarry. However, based on the VE's testimony that someone with Winn's age, education, work experience, and RFC could perform jobs available in the regional and national economy at that time, such as bench assembler, laundry worker, and ticket seller, the ALJ found that Winn was not disabled. On appeal, Winn argues, as he did to the district court, (1) that the ALJ did not give the opinions of his treating physician, Dr. Gary LaMonda, sufficient weight; and (2) that the RFC found by the ALJ attributed greater hand functioning to Winn than the medical evidence supported.

         1. The Treating Physician Issue.

         Dr. LaMonda, an internist, had treated Winn for many years when, in late 2005, Winn's complaints of neck and...

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