United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, St. Joseph Division
ORDER 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
disability insurance benefits. The Commissioner's
decision is affirmed.
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 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 1965. R. at 28, 113, 320, 351. He has a high
school education and some vocational training. R. at 30, 320,
352. Plaintiff previously worked as a laborer and landscaper.
R. at 31, 352-53. He applied for disability insurance
benefits, alleging a disability onset date of June 30, 2010.
R. at 113-14. Plaintiff's application was denied, and he
requested a hearing. On May 30, 2012, a hearing was held
before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). R. at
24-50. On June 25, 2012, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was not
disabled. R. at 13-20. Plaintiff appealed that decision to
the Appeals Council, and his appeal was denied. R. at 1-3.
Plaintiff then appealed to this Court. Case No.
August 2014, this Court remanded the matter for further
proceedings. R. at 418-20. The Court noted there was “a
glaring paucity of medical evidence to support” the
ALJ's determination of Plaintiff's residual
functional capacity (“RFC”). R. at 418. The Court
directed the ALJ to obtain additional information from
Plaintiff's doctors, and conduct a new credibility
assessment. Id. at 2. Upon remand, the Appeals
Council vacated the prior ALJ's decision, and directed
the ALJ to consolidate Plaintiff's claims files, create a
single electronic record, and issue a new decision on the
consolidated claim. R. at 424.
August 2015, another hearing was held, during which Plaintiff
testified. R. at 347-67. A supplemental hearing was held in
January 2016, to obtain medical expert testimony. R. at
329-46. The ALJ issued a decision in May 2016, finding
Plaintiff was not disabled. R. at 301-21. In reaching her
decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, right
shoulder rotator cuff repair in December 2014, carpal tunnel
syndrome, depression, and learning disorder/unspecified
intellectual disability. R. at 303-04. The ALJ determined
Plaintiff had the RFC to “perform light work as defined
in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except he cannot reach
overhead but can frequently reach in other directions.”
R. at 308. Plaintiff can frequently handle, finger, and feel.
Id. He can frequently climb ladders and stairs, but
can only occasionally climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds.
Id. Plaintiff can occasionally balance, stoop,
kneel, crouch, and crawl. Id. at 308-09. He can
frequently tolerate wetness and pulmonary irritants, but can
only occasionally tolerate unprotected heights and moving
mechanical parts. Id. at 309. Plaintiff “can
perform simple, routine, repetitive tasks requiring no
independent decision making or changes in the work
setting.” Id. He can occasionally interact
with coworkers but cannot interact with the public.
Id. Plaintiff would be off task for up to five
percent of the workday. Id. Based upon the RFC and
the Vocational Expert's (“VE”) testimony, the
ALJ concluded Plaintiff could work as a collator operator,
inserting machine operator, and router. R. at 321. Plaintiff
appealed the ALJ's decision to this Court.
argues the ALJ's decision must be reversed because the
ALJ's RFC did not adequately reflect Wheeler's
limitations in that the ALJ (1) did not properly weigh the
medical opinions, and (2) erred in evaluating Plaintiff's
credibility. 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.
to Plaintiff, the three medical opinions in the record
contain more severe limitations than the ALJ's RFC.
Plaintiff argues the ALJ erred in failing provide adequate
reasons for discounting these medical opinions. Plaintiff
also contends the ALJ's RFC is not supported by
substantial evidence because the ALJ failed to adequately
evaluate the medical evidence. Doc. #9, at 17.
Louis Bein, M.S.
attended two consultative psychological evaluations with
Louis Bein, M.S. In January 2015, after the initial
consultative evaluation, Bein completed a Medical Source
Statement - Mental (“MSSM”), and opined Plaintiff
had moderate limitation relating to complex instructions,
mild limitation in social functioning, and moderate
limitation in the ability to respond appropriately to usual
work situations and to changes in a routine work setting. R.
at 318, 763-65. In September 2015, Bein completed another
MSSM, and opined Plaintiff had marked limitations in carrying
out complex instructions and making judgments on complex work
related decisions, and moderate limitations in all other
areas except mild limitation in interacting appropriately
with the public. R. at 318, 856-59. Bein also administered an
intelligence quotient (“IQ”) test, wherein he
concluded Plaintiff's full scale IQ was 52. R. at 854,
858. Bein opined Plaintiff's test performance was below
expectations given his “social presentation,
presentation, vocabulary, ...