United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Southern Division
TINA A. THIBODEAUX, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
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 her application for
disability insurance benefits and supplemental security
income. 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 1959, and completed the eleventh grade in high
school. R. at 24, 37, 303, 305, 327. Plaintiff previously
worked as a certified nurse's aide, and a supervisor for
a residential facility. R. at 39-43. In 2013, Plaintiff
applied for disability, disability insurance benefits, and
supplemental security income, alleging a disability onset
date of December 30, 2012. R. at 13, 303-10. Plaintiff's
applications were denied, and she requested a hearing. R. at
249-53, 256-57. A hearing was held before an administrative
law judge (“ALJ”) in July 2014. R. at 31-72. On
November 5, 2014, the ALJ issued her decision, finding
Plaintiff was not disabled. R. at 13-25. Plaintiff appealed
the decision to the Appeals Council, which denied her appeal.
R. at 1-3.
reaching her decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the
following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of
the spine, osteoarthritis of the knees with degenerative
changes in the left knee, obesity, and depression. R. at 15.
The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following residual
functional capacity (“RFC”):
[P]erform medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) and
416.967(c) except that the claimant can occasionally stoop,
kneel, crouch, and crawl. She can frequently balance, handle,
and finger. She must avoid concentrated exposure to cold,
vibrations, and hazards. The claimant requires a sit/stand
option hourly for a positional change not to exceed two
minutes. The claimant is limited to simple routine work and
R. at 17. Based upon the RFC and the Vocational Expert's
(“VE”) testimony, the ALJ concluded Plaintiff
could work as a laundry worker or cleaner. R. at 23-24.
Plaintiff now appeals the ALJ's decision to this Court.
argues the ALJ's decision must be reversed because (1)
the ALJ failed to afford adequate weight to Plaintiff's
treating physician's opinion, and (2) the ALJ failed to
support the RFC with substantial evidence in the absence of
the treating physician's opinion.
Treating Physician's Opinion
claims the ALJ erred in affording little weight to the
opinion of her treating physician, Saima Jabeen, M.D.
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 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.
April 2014, Dr. Jabeen executed a Medical Source Statement
(“MSS”). R. at 571-72. Dr. Jabeen opined
Plaintiff can frequently lift and carry less than ten pounds;
stand and/or walk continuously for less than fifteen minutes
with a walker; stand and/or walk less than one hour total
during an eight-hour workday; sit continuously for fifteen
minutes at a time; sit less than one hour total during an
eight-hour workday; is limited in her ability to push and/or
pull; should never climb, stoop, or crawl; can only
occasionally balance, kneel, crouch, reach, handle, finger,
feel, see, speak, and hear; must avoid any exposure to
extreme cold and heights; must avoid moderate exposure to
extreme heat, weather, wetness/humidity, dust/fumes,
vibration, and hazards; would need to lie down or recline
every one to two hours; and has ...