United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Central Division
GREG A. MAJOR, 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 his application for
disability insurance benefits. For the following reasons, 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 1971, has a GED, and completed some college. R.
at 31-32. He previously worked as a field service manager for
cable and satellite television companies, and as a jailer in
a private jail. R. at 33-34. Plaintiff applied for disability
insurance benefits, alleging a disability onset date of
September 16, 2013. R. at 13, 32. Plaintiff's application
was denied, and he requested a hearing before an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”). R. at 13. A
hearing was held in August 2015. R. at 28-45. In September
2015, the ALJ found Plaintiff was not disabled. R. at 13-21.
rendering her decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the
following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease;
hypertension; syncopal episodes of an unknown/undetermined
etiology; and obstructive sleep apnea. R. at 15. The ALJ
determined Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity
[P]erform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR §
404.1567(a). Specifically, claimant is able to lift, carry,
push, or pull negligible weights, such as files or documents,
weighing up to 5 pounds frequently and up to and including 10
pounds occasionally. He is able to sit for 6 hours out of 8
hours; and claimant can stand or walk in combination for 5
hours out of 8 hours but for no more than 20 minutes at a
time. Claimant should never climb ladders, ropes, scaffolds
or stairs. He can occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, and
crawl. Claimant should never be exposed to vibration or to
extreme cold. He should never drive or be exposed to
dangerous machinery, unprotected heights, or open bodies of
water, including bathtubs and swimming pools.
R. at 16. Based upon the RFC and the vocational expert's
(“VE”) testimony, the ALJ concluded Plaintiff
could work as a document scanner, electronics assembler, and
packager. R. at 20-21. Plaintiff appealed the ALJ's
decision to the Appeals Council, which denied his appeal. R.
at 1-4. Plaintiff now appeals to this Court.
argues the ALJ's decision must be reversed because (1)
Plaintiff's RFC was not supported by substantial evidence
in the record; and (2) the ALJ failed to find Plaintiff had
an impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled a listed impairment.
first point, Plaintiff argues the RFC is not supported by
substantial evidence because it does not reflect the opinions
of examining physicians and Plaintiff's subjective
complaints. 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.
2000). Because Plaintiff's RFC is a medical question,
“an ALJ's assessment of it must be supported by
some medical evidence of [Plaintiff's] ability to
function in the workplace.” Hensley v. Colvin,
829 f.3d 926, 932 (8th Cir. 2016) (citation omitted).
“However, there is no requirement that an RFC finding
be supported by a specific medical opinion.”
Id. (citations omitted).
determining Plaintiff's RFC, the ALJ considered
Plaintiff's symptoms consistent with the objective
medical evidence; the intensity, persistence, and limiting
effects of Plaintiff's symptoms; Plaintiff's function
report and hearing testimony; medical opinions from several
physicians; and Plaintiff's work history. R. at 16-19.
Among other things, the ALJ found “nothing in the
record to show that [Plaintiff] cannot perform work within
the limitations set forth in [the RFC], ” and
“the preponderance of evidence in this case shows that
[Plaintiff] is not precluded from all work.” R. at 19.
Plaintiff argues the RFC did not account for Plaintiff's