United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER'S
KAYS, CHIEF JUDGE.
Mark Masciovecchio (“Plaintiff”) petitions for
review of an adverse decision by Defendant, the Acting
Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”).
Plaintiff applied for Social Security disability insurance
benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act
(“the Act”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434. The
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found Plaintiff
had the severe impairments of bipolar disorder and attention
deficit disorder, but retained the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform work as an equipment
washer, salvage laborer, and hand packager.
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 his application on January 21, 2014, alleging a
disability onset date of March 1, 2013. The Commissioner
denied the application at the initial claim level, and
Plaintiff appealed the denial to an ALJ. The ALJ held a
hearing, and on July 31, 2015, issued a decision finding
Plaintiff was not disabled. The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review on July 28, 2016, 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. §
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. §
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. Buckner v.
Astrue, 646 F.3d 549, 556 (8th Cir. 2011). Substantial
evidence is less than a preponderance, but 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. McKinney v. Apfel, 228 F.3d 860, 863
(8th Cir. 2000). The court must “defer heavily”
to the Commissioner's findings and conclusions. Hurd
v. Astrue, 621 F.3d 734, 738 (8th Cir. 2010). The court
may reverse the Commissioner's decision only if it falls
outside of the available zone of choice, and a decision is
not outside this zone simply because the court might have
decided the case differently were it the initial finder of
fact. Buckner, 646 F.3d at 556.
argues the ALJ made three legal errors that require remand:
(1) failing to provide good reasons for discounting his
treating psychiatrist's credibility; (2) improperly
discounting his credibility; and (3) failing to support the
RFC with sufficient medical evidence. After reviewing the
record and the applicable law, the Court finds these
arguments are without merit.
The ALJ gave good reasons for discounting Plaintiff's
treating psychiatrist's opinion.
Plaintiff argues the ALJ erred by giving no weight to his
treating psychiatrist, Mike Young, M.D. (“Dr.
Young”). He argues the ALJ's reasoning for
discounting Dr. Young's opinion, that it was not
supported by the evidence in the record and conflicted with
his own treatment notes, is a reason to give Dr. Young's
opinion “non-controlling weight, ” rather than
amount of weight given a treating medical source opinion
depends upon support for the opinion found in the record; its
consistency with the record; and whether it rests upon
conclusory statements. Papesh v. Colvin, 786 F.3d
1126, 1132 (8th Cir. 2015). An ALJ must give controlling
weight to a treating medical source opinion if it is
well-supported by medically acceptable clinical and
laboratory diagnostic techniques, and is not inconsistent
with the other substantial evidence. Id. The opinion
may be given “limited weight if it provides conclusory
statements only, or is inconsistent with the record.”
Id. (citations omitted). But, the ALJ “may
discount or even disregard the opinion . . . where other
medical assessments are supported by better or more ...