Also included in the record is a Psychological Review Technique Form/ Rating of Impairment Severity completed by Roger L. Glover, Ph.D in October of 1997. (R. 444-55.) In this report, Dr. Glover (a non-examining psychologist) opined that Bennett has a severe affective disorder in the form of his depressive syndrome, which is characterized by psychomotor agitation or retardation, decreased energy, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and difficulty concentrating or thinking. (R. 447.) Functionally, Dr. Glover assessed Bennett as only slightly restricted in his activities of daily living and maintaining social functioning. He opined that Bennett often experiences deficiencies of concentration, persistence or pace which result in failure to complete tasks in a timely manner and that he has experienced deterioration in a work-place setting "once or twice." (R. 451.) Dr. Glover also completed a functional capacity assessment in which he opined that Bennet was not significantly limited in terms of understanding and memory, social interaction, and adaptation skills. (R. 452-55.) With regard to the issue of sustained concentration and persistence, Dr. Glover opined that Bennett was moderately limited in his ability to do the following: maintain attention and concentration for extended periods, perform activities within a schedule, maintain regular attendance, be punctual within customary tolerances, complete a normal workday and workweek without interruptions from psychologically based symptoms, and perform at a consistent pace without an unreasonable number and length of rest periods. He rated Bennett as not significantly limited with regard to his ability to carry out both short and detailed instructions, sustain an ordinary routine without special supervision, and make simple work-related decisions. (Id.) Dr. Glover's assessment was summarily approved by Rayond F. Dalton, Jr., Ph.D on February 23, 1998. (R. 445, 455.)
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Our review of the Commissioner's determination, insofar as it pertains to the question of substantial evidence, is highly deferential. Indeed, the findings of the Commissioner as to any fact, if supported by "substantial evidence," are conclusive. 42 U.S.C.A. § 405(g) (Lexis 1998). Substantial evidence is not a large or considerable amount of evidence, but only "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Pierce v. Underwood, 487 U.S. 552, 565, 108 S.Ct. 2541, 101 L.Ed.2d 490 (1988) (quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229, 59 S.Ct. 206, 83 L.Ed. 126 (1938)); see also Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 28 L.Ed.2d 842 (1971). It is considered to be less than a preponderance of the evidence but more than a mere scintilla. See Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401, 91 S.Ct. 1420; Jesurum v. Sec'y of the United States Dept. of Health and Humrnan Servs., 48 F.3d 114, 117 (3d Cir. 1995). Further, we must give deference to the agency's "inferences from facts if those inferences are supported by substantial evidence, `even [where] this court acting de novo might have reached a different conclusion.'" Monsour Med. Ctr. v. Heckler, 806 F.2d 1185, 1190-91 (3d Cir. 1986). Nevertheless, the determination of whether substantial evidence exists is not merely a quantitative exercise. "A single piece of evidence will not satisfy the substantiality test if the [Commissioner] ignores, or fails to resolve, a conflict created by countervailing evidence." Morales v. Apfel, 225 F.3d 310, 317 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing Kent v. Schweiker, 710 F.2d 110, 114 (3d Cir. 1983); Gilliland v. Heckler, 786 F.2d 178, 183 (3d Cir. 1986)). "Nor is evidence substantial if it is overwhelmed by other evidence — particularly certain types of evidence (e.g., that offered by treating physicians) — or if it really constitutes not evidence but mere conclusion." Id.
In order to establish a disability under the Social Security Act, a claimant must demonstrate there is some "medically determinable basis for an impairment that prevents him from engaging in any `substantial gainful activity' for a statutory twelve-month period." Stunkard v. Secretary of Health and Human Services, 841 F.2d 57, 59 (3d Cir. 1988); 42 U.S.C.A. § 423(d)(1)(A) (Lexis 1999). A claimant is considered unable to engage in any substantial activity "only if his physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy." 42 U.S.C.A. § 423(d)(2)(A) (Lexis 1999).
The Social Security Administration has established a sequential evaluation process for determining whether a claimant is under a disability. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520 (1999). This process has as been summarized as follows:
. . . In step one, the Commissioner must determine
whether the claimant is currently engaging in
substantial gainful activity.
20 C.F.R. § 1520(a). If a claimant is found to be engaged
in substantial activity, the disability claim will be
denied. Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140,
107 S.Ct. 2287, 2290-91, 96 L.Ed.2d 119 (1987). In step
two, the Commissioner must determine whether the
claimant is suffering from a severe impairment.
20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(c). If the claimant fails to
show that her impairments are "severe," she is
ineligible for disability benefits.
In step three, the Commissioner compares the medical
evidence of the claimant's impairment to a list of
impairments presumed severe enough to preclude any
gainful work. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(d). If a
claimant does not suffer from a listed impairment or
its equivalent, the analysis proceeds to steps four
and five. Step four requires the ALJ to consider
whether the claimant retains the residual functional
capacity to perform her past relevant work.
20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(d). The claimant bears the burden of
demonstrating an inability to return to her past
relevant work. Adorno v. Shalala, 40 F.3d 43, 46 (3d
Cir. 1994). If the claimant is unable to resume her
former occupation, the evaluation moves to the final
step. At this stage, the burden of production shifts
to the Commissioner, who must demonstrate the
claimant is capable of performing other available
work in order to deny a claim of disability.
20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(f). The ALJ must show there are
other jobs existing in significant numbers in the
national economy which the claimant can perform,
consistent with her medical impairments, age,
education, past work experience, and residual
functional capacity. The ALJ must analyze the
cumulative effect of all the claimant's impairments
in determining whether she is capable of performing
work and is not disabled. See
20 C.F.R. § 404.1523. The ALJ will often seek the
assistance of a vocational expert at this fifth step.
See Podedworny v. Harris, 745 F.2d 210, 218 (3d Cir.