United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Southern Division
MARIA J. PLILER, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Defendant.
ORDER AND OPINION AFFIRMING COMMISSIONER'S FINAL
DECISION DENYING BENEFITS
D. SMITH, SENIOR JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
is Plaintiff's appeal of the Commissioner of Social
Security's final decision denying her applications for
disability insurance benefits and supplemental security
income. 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 1967, and is a high school graduate. R. at 54,
57. She previously worked as an appliance assembler, sewing
machine operator, and cloth folder. R. at 27, 60-61.
Plaintiff applied for disability and disability insurance
benefits as well as supplemental security income, alleging a
disability onset date of July 5, 2008. R. at 18.
Plaintiff's applications were denied, and she requested a
hearing before an administrative law judge
(“ALJ”). R. at 171-84. A hearing was held in
September 2015. R. at 49-93. During the hearing,
Plaintiff's counsel indicated an intent to amend
Plaintiff's alleged onset date to December 12, 2012, but
a form amending Plaintiff's onset was not submitted. R.
at 18, 55-56. In December 2015, ALJ Victor Horton issued his
decision, finding Plaintiff was not disabled. R. at 18-28.
rendering his decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the
following severe impairments: migraines, Raynaud's
disease, peripheral vascular disease, degenerative disc
disease, degenerative joint disease, radiculopathy, and a
seizure disorder. R. at 21. The ALJ determined Plaintiff has
the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to:
[P]erform sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(a)
and 416.967(a) except that she must have a sit/stand option
with the ability to change positions frequently, further
defined as every hour for one minute and then can return to
the same or different position; can never climb ladders or
scaffolds; occasionally climb stairs and ramps, stoop, kneel,
crouch, and crawl; frequently push and pull with the arms and
legs; frequently reach in all directions; never lift
overhead; frequently perform handling/gross and
fingering/fine manipulation; must avoid concentrated exposure
to extreme cold and vibrations, further defined as operating
jackhammers or heavy equipment that vibrates the operator;
must avoid concentrated exposure to level five noise; and
must avoid all exposure to hazards and heights and machinery.
23. Based upon the RFC and the vocational expert's
(“VE”) testimony, the ALJ concluded Plaintiff
could work as a charge account clerk and document preparer.
R. at 28. Plaintiff appealed the ALJ's decision to the
Appeals Council, which denied her appeal. R. at 1-4.
Plaintiff now appeals to this Court.
argues the ALJ's decision must be reversed because (1)
Plaintiff's RFC is not supported by substantial evidence
because it does not include Plaintiff's use of a cane;
and (2) the ALJ failed to properly evaluate Plaintiff's
argues the ALJ's RFC determination is not supported by
substantial evidence because the RFC does not include
Plaintiff's use of a cane. 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).
was treated by family nurse practitioner David McVicker, who
completed a medical source statement - physical
(“MSS”) in August 2015. R. at 755-57. McVicker
opined Plaintiff would be able to occasionally carry less
than ten pounds; could never or rarely twist, stoop, balance,
crouch, crawl, or climb; could occasionally reach, frequently
handle, and constantly finger and feel; would need to shift
positions between standing and sitting; would need
unscheduled breaks every twenty minutes lasting thirty
minutes on average; would be off-task twenty-five percent of
the day; and was incapable of “low ...