United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Southern 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 her application for
disability insurance benefits and supplemental social
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 1962, and has a bachelor's degree in
pharmacy. R. at 513-14. She previously worked as a
pharmacist. R. at 500, 513. In April 2010, Plaintiff applied
for disability insurance benefits and supplemental social
security income, alleging an onset date of March 23, 2009. R.
at 17. Her initial application was denied, but this Court
reversed and remanded for further proceedings. Case No.
12-cv-06110-ODS, Doc. #13.
remand, a second hearing was held before an administrative
law judge (“ALJ”) in January 2014. R. at 509-38.
In March 2014, the ALJ issued her decision, finding Plaintiff
was not disabled. R. at 490-508. Plaintiff appealed the
decision to the Appeals Council, which denied her appeal. R.
at 481. The ALJ found Plaintiff had the severe impairments of
anxiety, panic disorder, bipolar disorder, and depression. R.
at 492. The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following
residual functional capacity (“RFC”):
[P]erform a full range of work at all exertional levels but
with the following nonexertional limitations: limited to
simple, routine, repetitive work tasks, involving no
fast-paced production requirements and only simple,
work-related decisions, with few, if any workplace changes.
She can tolerate no public interaction, and she is limited to
occasional supervision. She can work around coworkers
throughout the day, but she is limited to occasional
interaction with coworkers.
496. Based upon the RFC and the Vocational Expert's
(“VE”) testimony, the ALJ concluded Plaintiff
could work as an industrial cleaner, order filler, garment
sorter, or retail marker. R. at 501. Plaintiff now appeals
the ALJ's decision to this Court.
argues the RFC is not supported by medical evidence in the
record, the ALJ erroneously rejected medical opinions in the
record, and the ALJ improperly assessed Plaintiff's
argues the ALJ erred in giving “little” weight to
“each and every medical opinion of record, ” and
therefore, the RFC is not supported by medical evidence.
While “a claimant's RFC is a medical
question…in evaluating a claimant's RFC, an ALJ is
not limited to considering medical evidence
exclusively.” Cox v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 614, 619
(8th Cir. 2007). The ALJ must base the RFC on “all
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.
2000). One's RFC is the “most you can still do
despite your limitations.” 20 C.F.R. §
404.1545(a)(1). Further, the ALJ is not required to rely on
opinion evidence in determining Plaintiff's RFC.
Martise v. Astrue, 641 F.3d 909, 927 (8th Cir.
properly considered the medical evidence in formulating
Plaintiff's RFC. The ALJ gave “little” or
“some” weight to medical opinions in the record,
but the RFC incorporates limitations consistent with evidence
in the record. As the Court explains below, the ALJ did not
err in weighing medical opinions of Plaintiff's treating
physician and psychiatrist. Plaintiff's RFC is drawn from
medical sources despite the weight given each opinion, and
the RFC assessment is “ultimately an ...