United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Southern Division
ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER'S
KAYS, CHIEF JUDGE.
action seeks judicial review of the Acting Commissioner of
Social Security's (“the Commissioner”)
decision denying Plaintiff Eugenia Odorizzi's
applications for Social Security disability insurance
benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act
(“the Act”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434, and
Supplemental Security Income under Title XVI of the Act, 42
U.S.C. §§ 1381- 1383f. The Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) found Plaintiff had severe impairments of
carpal tunnel syndrome, peripheral vascular disease, and
obesity, but retained the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform work as a cashier or warehouse
carefully reviewing the record and the parties'
arguments, the Court finds the ALJ's opinion is supported
by substantial evidence on the record as a whole. The
Commissioner's decision is AFFIRMED.
and Factual Background
complete facts and arguments are presented in the
parties' briefs and are repeated here only to the extent
filed her applications on March 8, 2013, alleging a
disability onset date of March 8, 2011. The Commissioner
denied the applications at the initial claim level, and
Plaintiff appealed the denial to an ALJ. The ALJ held a
hearing, and on August 12, 2014, issued a decision finding
Plaintiff was not disabled. The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review on August 10, 2015,
leaving the ALJ's decision as the Commissioner's
final decision. Plaintiff has exhausted all administrative
remedies and judicial review is now appropriate under 42
U.S.C. § 405(g) and 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3).
federal court's review of the Commissioner's decision
to deny disability benefits is limited to determining whether
the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence on the record as a whole. Chaney v. Colvin,
812 F.3d 672, 676 (8th Cir. 2016). Substantial evidence is
less than a preponderance, but is enough evidence that a
reasonable mind would find it sufficient to support the
Commissioner's decision. Id. In making this
assessment, the court considers evidence that detracts from
the Commissioner's decision, as well as evidence that
supports it. Id. The court must “defer
heavily” to the Commissioner's findings and
conclusions. Wright v. Colvin, 789 F.3d 847, 852
(8th Cir. 2015). The court may reverse the Commissioner's
decision only if it falls outside of the available zone of
choice; a decision is not outside this zone simply because
the evidence also points to an alternate outcome. Buckner
v. Astrue, 646 F.3d 549, 556 (8th Cir. 2011).
Commissioner follows a five-step sequential evaluation
process to determine whether a claimant is
disabled, that is, unable to engage in any substantial
gainful activity by reason of a medically determinable
impairment that has lasted or can be expected to last for a
continuous period of at least twelve months. 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(1)(A). Plaintiff argues the ALJ erred at step four in
formulating her RFC because he: (1) improperly discounted her
credibility; (2) improperly discounted the well-supported
opinion of her treating physician; and (3) failed to support
the RFC with substantial evidence.
arguments are without merit.
The ALJ properly analyzed Plaintiff's
argues the ALJ's credibility analysis was not rooted in
the Polaski factors and was not supported by
substantial evidence. Plaintiff claims the ALJ only gave
three reasons for discounting Plaintiff's credibility-her
conservative treatment, her daily activities, and her failure
to stop smoking-and that each reason is invalid.
questions are “primarily for the ALJ to decide, not the
courts.” Baldwin v. Barnhart, 349 F.3d 549,
558 (8th Cir. 2003). When the ALJ discounts a claimant's
credibility, he must explain why he did so. Lowe v.
Apfel, 226 F.3d 969, 971 (8th Cir. 2000). “If an
ALJ explicitly discredits the claimant's testimony and
gives good reasons for doing so, the Court should defer to
the ALJ's credibility determination.” Gregg v.
Barnhart, 354 F.3d 710, 713 (8th Cir. 2003). In
evaluating a claimant's subjective complaints, the ALJ
must consider the factors set forth in Polaski v.
Heckler, 739 F.2d 1320, 1322 (8th Cir. 1984). These
factors include the claimant's daily activities; the
duration, frequency, and intensity of pain; the dosage,
effectiveness, and side effects of medication; any
precipitating and aggravating factors; any functional
restrictions; the claimant's work history; and the
absence of objective medical ...