United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Southern Division
AND OPINION AFFIRMING COMMISSIONER'S FINAL
DECISION DENYING BENEFITS
D. SMITH, SENIOR JUDGE
is Plaintiff's appeal of the Commissioner of Social
Security's final decision denying his 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 1971 and attended two years of college. R. at 15,
21, 36, 144. Plaintiff applied for supplemental security
income on January 24, 2013, alleging a disability onset date
of June 1, 1997. R. at 11, 144. He later amended his onset
date to January 24, 2013. R. at 34-35, 160. Plaintiff's
application was denied, and he requested a hearing. R. at
72-80, 87. On June 5, 2014, a hearing was held before
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Robert Lynch. R.
at 29-71. On December 22, 2014, the ALJ issued his decision,
finding Plaintiff was not disabled. R. at 11-23.
reaching his decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the
following severe impairments: lymphedema; obesity; and neck,
back, and left shoulder pain. R. at 13. The ALJ determined
Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to “lift and carry up to 10 pounds
occasionally and less weight more frequently, to sit 6 hours
in an 8-hour workday, and to stand and/or walk 2
hours.” R. at 15. Plaintiff requires the ability, while
sitting, to make a positional change every forty-five
minutes, defined as the opportunity to stand for no more than
three minutes, while at the workstation and without being
off-task. Id. Plaintiff can frequently use his upper
extremities to reach, handle, and finger; can occasionally
crouch, kneel, stoop, and climb ramps and stairs; but cannot
balance or crawl. Id. Plaintiff “cannot use
his left lower extremity to operate foot controls, and he
must avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold, extreme
heat, extreme wetness, and extreme vibration, as well as any
exposure to workplace hazards such as unprotected heights and
dangerous moving machinery.” Id. Based upon
the RFC and the Vocational Expert's (“VE”)
testimony, the ALJ concluded Plaintiff could work as a credit
card interviewer, copy examiner, and surveillance monitor. R.
argues the ALJ's decision must be reversed because the
ALJ's RFC was not properly formulated for two reasons.
Doc. #7, at 14-27. First, the ALJ improperly discounted the
opinions of Dr. Hoos and Dr. Miley for reasons that are not
supported in the record. Second, the ALJ did not properly
account for Plaintiff's self-reported limitations after
discounting his testimony.
claims the ALJ erred in affording little weight to the
opinion of Plaintiff's treating hematologist, Dr. Hoos,
and erred in affording some, but not substantial weight, to
the opinion of the consultative examiner, Dr. Miley. Doc. #7,
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 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.
September 2013 and April 2014, Dr. Hoos opined Plaintiff was
unable to perform sedentary work. R. at 395-96, 483-84. Dr.
Hoos found Plaintiff could occasionally lift or carry ten
pounds; frequently lift or carry less than ten pounds; stand
and/or walk less than two hours in an eight-hour workday; sit
less than two hours in an eight-hour workday; must alternate
sitting and standing; had limited use of lower extremities
with regarding to pushing and pulling; could occasionally
stoop; could never kneel,  climb, balance, crouch, or ...