United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, St. Joseph Division
ORDER AND OPINION AFFIRMING COMMISSIONER'S FINAL
DECISION DENYING BENEFITS
D. SMITH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
is Plaintiff's appeal of the Commissioner of Social
Security's final decision denying her application for
supplemental security income. The Commissioner's decision
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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
was born in 1981 and has the equivalent of a high school
education. R. at 27, 81, 83-84, 113, 115, 264, 296. Plaintiff
applied for supplemental security income, alleging disability
onset date of December 1, 2009. R. at 14, 264-72. Her
application was denied, and she requested a hearing. A
hearing was held in July 2012, after which the Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”) issued a decision finding
Plaintiff was not disabled. R. at 14, 76-108, 152-64.
Plaintiff appealed the decision to the Appeals Council, which
remanded the matter. R. at 169-71. Another hearing was held
in June 2014. R. at 109-40. The ALJ issued her decision on
August 18, 2014, finding Plaintiff was not disabled. R. at
reaching her decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the
following severe impairments: seizure disorder, bipolar
disorder, personality disorder, anxiety, depression, asthma,
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis, paranoid
schizophrenia, and insomnia. R. at 16. The ALJ determined
Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform a full range of work at all
exertional levels. R. at 18. She found Plaintiff can
frequently climb ramps and stairs but can never balance or
climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. Id. Due to her
seizure disorder and asthma, the ALJ concluded Plaintiff
should avoid exposure to extreme heat, operational control of
moving machinery, unprotected heights, and hazardous
machinery, but she may have occasional exposure to irritants.
Id. Due to psychological symptoms, the ALJ found
Plaintiff is “limited to simple, routine, repetitive
tasks in a work environment free of fast-paced production
requirements, involving only simple-work related decisions
with few, if any, workplace changes.” Id.
Plaintiff should have no interaction with the public and
occasional interaction with co-workers. Id. The ALJ
concluded, based upon the RFC and the Vocational Expert's
(“VE”) testimony, Plaintiff could work as a linen
room attendant, retail ticket stubber, and order filler. R.
raises issues with the ALJ's analysis of the opinions of
two treating medical providers - Dr. McGuire and Dr. Fadare -
and the opinion of a non-examining physician - Dr. Burstin.
Generally, a treating physician's opinion is given more
weight than other sources in a disability proceeding. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1527(c)(2). A treating physician's
opinion may be disregarded if it is unsupported by clinical
or other data or is contrary to the weight of the remaining
evidence in the record. See e.g., Anderson, 696 F.3d
at 793-94; Pena v. Chater, 76 F.3d 906, 908 (8th
Cir. 1996). Ultimately, the ALJ must “give good
reasons” to explain the weight given the treating
physician's opinion. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(c)(2);
Anderson, 696 F.3d at 793.
afforded little weight to the opinion of Dr. McGuire. R. at
25. In January 2012, Dr. McGuire executed a Medical Source
Statement - Mental wherein she opined Plaintiff had moderate
limitations in understanding and memory, marked and moderate
limitations in sustaining concentration and persistence,
marked limitation in maintaining regular attendance and being
punctual, marked limitation in the ability to complete a
normal workday, and moderate limitations in social
interactions. R. at 565-66.
affording little weight to Dr. McGuire's opinion, the ALJ
determined “the marked limitations [set by Dr. McGuire]
are inconsistent with the claimant's daily activities
discussed above, including, but not limited to, her caring
for her son and her past care for her grandfather, all of
which demonstrate a mental capacity greater than that opined
by Dr. McGuire.” Id. The ALJ further concluded
Dr. McGuire's opinion was inconsistent with her treatment
records, which reported normal mental status examinations and
stable symptoms when Plaintiff was compliant with medication.
Id. The ALJ also found there was “no
indication from [Dr. McGuire's] treatment records that
the claimant i[s] unable to maintain regular attendance or
complete a normal workweek when complaint with her
medication.” Id. The ALJ noted one of
Plaintiff's previous employers reported she had no
problems with attendance or tardiness, which was inconsistent
with Dr. McGuire's opinion that Plaintiff would be unable
to maintain regular attendance and punctuality. R. at 25,
Court reviewed the record and finds substantial evidence
(including but not limited to Plaintiff's testimony, Dr.
McGuire's treatment notes, and Plaintiff's former
employer's report) supports the ALJ's decision to
discount the opinion of Dr. McGuire. See R. 84-85,
89-99, 128-31, 412, 425-26, 606-07, 609-10, 1035-36, 1043-44.
Dr. McGuire's treatment notes alone do not support her
opinion that Plaintiff is markedly or moderately limited in
certain functioning areas. Instead, Dr. McGuire's
treatment notes reflect an individual with less severe
restrictions and limitations. See R. 425-26, 606-07,
609-10, 1035-36, 1043-44. Thus, the Court affirms
Defendant's decision in this respect.