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McNish v. Colvin

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

September 26, 2016

CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.



         Pending is Plaintiff's appeal of the Commissioner of Social Security's final decision denying his applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income. The Commissioner's decision is affirmed.


         The Court's review of the Commissioner's decision is limited to a determination whether the decision is “supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole. Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance but...enough that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the conclusion.” Andrews v. Colvin, 791 F.3d 923, 928 (8th Cir. 2015) (citations omitted). “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.” Cline v. Colvin, 771 F.3d 1098, 1102 (8th Cir. 2014) (citation omitted). Though advantageous to the Commissioner, this standard also requires that the Court consider evidence that fairly detracts from the final decision. Anderson v. Astrue, 696 F.3d 790, 793 (8th Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). Substantial evidence means “more than a mere scintilla” of evidence; rather, it is relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Gragg v. Astrue, 615 F.3d 932, 938 (8th Cir. 2010).


         Plaintiff was born in 1981, has a high school education, and past work experience as a truck driver, route driver, welder/ grinder, and order filler. R. at 38-46. Plaintiff alleges a disability onset date of February 22, 2014, stating he became disabled after slipping and falling on ice.[1] R. at 14, 56. The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease of the spine, facet arthropathy, mild right carpel tunnel syndrome, adjustment disorder, anxiety, depression, and obesity. R. at 16. The ALJ determined Plaintiff was not disabled and found Plaintiff had a residual functional capacity (“RFC”):

[T]o perform sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.167(a) and 416.967(a) except that he must avoid climbing ladders, ropes or scaffolds; he can occasionally climb ramps and stairs; he can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl; he can frequently handle and finger; he must avoid concentrated exposure to vibrations and hazards; he must be able to change positions from sitting to standing every 30 minutes; and he can have occasional contact with supervisors, co-workers and the general public.

R. at 19. Based on the testimony of a vocational expert, the ALJ determined Plaintiff could work as a final assembler or table worker. R. at 26.



         Plaintiff argues the ALJ failed to include a limitation in the RFC regarding his ability to maintain concentration. One's RFC is the “most you can still do despite your limitations.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1545(a)(1). The ALJ must base the RFC on “all of the relevant evidence, including the medical records, observations of treating physicians and others, and an individual's own description of his limitations.” McKinney v. Apfel, 228 F.3d 860, 863 (8th Cir. 2000).

         The ALJ did not err in formulating Plaintiff's RFC. Plaintiff's RFC limited him to “occasional contact with supervisors, co-workers and the general public.” R. at 19. The ALJ determined no other limitation was necessary and such a determination is supported by the record. In determining Plaintiff's RFC, the ALJ gave great weight to the opinion of examining psychologist Dr. Janice May. Dr. May found Plaintiff does not display signs of suicidal ideations, being prone to physical violence, substance abuse, or psychosis. R. at 355. Although Dr. May noted Plaintiff's bland affect and an indifferent attitude, she also noted Plaintiff's “speech is logical, coherent, and goal-directed”, his recent and remote memory is unimpaired, judgment is fair, and his “attention/concentration is characterized by an ability to attend and maintain focus.” Id. In meeting with Dr. May, Plaintiff described “good success” with medication prescribed for his anxiety. Id. Significantly, Dr. May noted Plaintiff's mental impairments “are likely to impact concentration however would not prevent him from establishing gainful employment.” Id. (emphasis added).

         In his Function Report, Plaintiff indicated he can handle finances, follow instructions, has no problems with authority figures, and has no unusual behaviors or fears. R. at 239, 241-42. Furthermore, the ALJ found Plaintiff to be alert and attentive at the administrative hearing held in this matter. R. at 19. Plaintiff's RFC properly reflects his mild limitation regarding concentration, and the evidence in the record does not support requiring ...

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