Submitted: April 17, 2019
from United States District Court for the Western District of
Missouri - Springfield
COLLOTON, GRUENDER, and ERICKSON, Circuit Judges.
COLLOTON, Circuit Judge.
Sloan appeals the judgment of the district
court upholding the denial of her application
for Social Security disability insurance benefits and
supplemental security income. We affirm.
injured her back in a work-related accident in October 1988.
She eventually was diagnosed with discogenic low back pain.
By December 1989, Sloan had achieved maximum medical
improvement with a permanent partial disability of fifteen
percent of her body as a whole.
worked at Sam's Club from 1998 to March 2014, serving in
various roles from stocker to phone attendant. Most recently,
as a phone attendant, Sloan reviewed pending customer orders,
checked on stock status, answered incoming calls and routed
them to the appropriate coworker, printed and delivered
reports for her managers, and "walked the merchandise
floor once a week to keep updated on new merchandise."
To resolve customer requests, she "sometimes"
needed to retrieve items on the floor, which could require
her to lift about twenty-five pounds.
3, 2014, Sloan applied for disability insurance benefits
under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §
423, and for supplemental security income under Title XVI of
the Act, id. § 1382. She claimed a disability
onset date of March 28, 2014. The Social Security
Administration denied Sloan's application on initial
review, and Sloan requested a hearing before an
administrative law judge. The ALJ concluded that Sloan was
not entitled to benefits, because she retained the residual
functional capacity to perform her previous work as a
the five-step disability evaluation process set forth in 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520 and 416.920, the ALJ determined
that Sloan was severely impaired by migraines, degenerative
disc disease of the lumbar and cervical spine, degenerative
joint disease of the knees, obesity, diabetes mellitus,
bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, and vertigo. But the ALJ
did not find that any of these impairments, individually or
in combination, qualified Sloan for benefits by meeting or
medically equaling the severity of a listed impairment in 20
C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
then considered Sloan's residual functional capacity-that
is, the most that a claimant can do despite her limitations.
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1545(a)(1), 416.945(a)(1). The ALJ
concluded that Sloan retained the residual functional
capacity to perform sedentary work, with certain limitations.
Sloan could not climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, and could
only occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop,
crouch, crawl, or kneel. Although she could frequently handle
objects bilaterally, Sloan was to avoid extreme temperatures,
excessive vibrations, pulmonary irritants, hazardous
machinery, and unprotected heights.
four of the sequential analysis, the ALJ took testimony from
a vocational expert. After hearing Sloan describe her
previous work at Sam's Club, the vocational expert
remarked that Sloan's past work "looks like a
composite job." Referring to the Dictionary of
Occupational Titles (DOT), he said that
Sloan's activity consisted first of work as a
"receptionist," but that aspects of her work also
fell under the DOT's description of an
"order filler" or a "stores laborer."
See 1 Dictionary of Occupational Titles
237.367-038, at 207 (4th rev. ed. 1991) (receptionist); 2
id. 922.687-058, at 947 (stores laborer).
posed several hypothetical questions to the vocational
expert, asking whether an individual with Sloan's
impairments could perform her past duties as a phone
attendant. The vocational expert opined that Sloan could not
complete her job duties as previously performed, given the
medium exertional requirements of the stores-laborer
elements, but that Sloan could perform the duties of a
receptionist, as defined in the DOT. Finding the
vocational expert's testimony credible, the ALJ concluded
that Sloan was capable of performing her past relevant work
as a receptionist and deemed Sloan not disabled under the
Act. The Appeals Council denied review.
filed an action in the district court, and the court upheld
the ALJ's decision. Sloan appeals, and we review the
district court's decision de novo. The
Commissioner's decision must stand if it is supported by
substantial evidence on the record as a whole and not based
on any legal error. Substantial evidence is less than a
preponderance, but enough that a reasonable mind would accept
it as adequate to support the Commissioner's conclusion.
Chismarich v. Berryhill, 888 F.3d 978, 979 (8th Cir.
2018) (per curiam).
argument on appeal is that she lacks the capacity to perform
her past relevant work. The ALJ concluded that she has the
residual functional capacity to perform her prior work as a
receptionist, but Sloan challenges this conclusion. At step
four in the evaluation process, Sloan bears the burden to
show that she cannot perform her past relevant work.
Steed v. Astrue, 524 F.3d 872, 874 n.3 (8th Cir.
2008). If she can perform her past relevant work, either as
she actually performed it or as the position is generally
performed in the national ...