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Mathena v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Southern Division

July 27, 2015

KATHY MATHENA, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

ORDER

MATT J. WHITWORTH, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Kathy Mathena seeks judicial review[1] of a final administrative decision denying plaintiff disability benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401 et seq., and Supplemental Security Income benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381 et seq. Section 205(g) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) provides for judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration under Title II. Section 1631(c)(3) of the Act and 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3) provide for judicial review to the same extent as the Commissioner's final determination under section 205.

The parties' briefs are fully submitted, and an oral argument was held on July 20, 2015. The complete facts and arguments are presented in the parties' briefs and will not be repeated here.

Standard of Review

The Eighth Circuit has set forth the standard for the federal courts' judicial review of denial of benefits, as follows:

Our role on review is to determine whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole. Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance, but is enough that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the Commissioner's conclusion. In determining whether existing evidence is substantial, we consider evidence that detracts from the Commissioner's decision as well as evidence that supports it. As long as substantial evidence in the record supports the Commissioner's decision, we may not reverse it because substantial evidence exists in the record that would have supported a contrary outcome or because we would have decided the case differently.

Baker v. Barnhart, 457 F.3d 882, 892 (8th Cir. 2006).

The claimant has the initial burden of establishing the existence of a disability as defined by 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1). See Roth v. Shalala, 45 F.3d 279, 282 (8th Cir. 1995). To meet the statutory definition, "the claimant must show (1) that he has a medically determinable physical or mental impairment which will either last for at least twelve months or result in death, (2) that he is unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity, and (3) that this inability is the result of his impairment." McMillian v. Schweiker, 697 F.2d 215, 220 (8th Cir. 1983).

When reviewing the record to determine if there is substantial evidence to support the administrative decision, the court considers the educational background, work history and present age of the claimant; subjective complaints of pain or other impairments; claimant's description of physical activities and capabilities; the medical opinions given by treating and examining physicians; the corroboration by third parties of claimant's impairments; and the testimony of vocational experts when based upon proper hypothetical questions that fairly set forth the claimant's impairments. McMillian, 697 F.2d at 221.

Discussion

Here, the plaintiff primarily argues that the ALJ committed error in weighing the medical opinions to assess her physical residual functional capacity (RFC).[2] Upon a review of the record, this Court finds the ALJ had good cause to consider other medical opinions over the treating physician's opinion in that there were other assessments "supported by better or more thorough medical evidence." Brown v. Astrue, 611 F.3d 941, 951 (8th Cir. 2010) quoting Heino v. Astrue, 578 F.3d 873, 879 (8th Cir. 2009) ("an ALJ may credit other medical evaluations over that of the treating physician when such other assessments are supported by better or more thorough medical evidence"). The ALJ explained his basis for not giving the treating source substantial weight, including that the doctor's extreme limitations were not consistent with other treatment records and that there were inconsistencies within the doctor's own treatment notes. Plaintiff has failed to meet her burden. Consequently, this Court finds there is substantial evidence in the record to support the finding of the ALJ that plaintiff was not under disability as defined by the Social Security Act.

IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that the decision of the Commissioner is affirmed.


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