United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western 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 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 1980, and has a bachelor's degree in science.
R. at 41, 183. She previously worked as a medication aide,
dispatcher, operations specialist, and paralegal. R. at 51,
184. Plaintiff first applied for disability and disability
insurance benefits in September 2012 and alleged an onset
date of March 1, 2012, but her application was denied on May
27, 2014. R. at 15. On June 3, 2014, Plaintiff applied a
second time for disability and disability insurance benefits,
and filed an application for supplemental security income as
well, again alleging a disability onset date of March 1,
2012. R. at 15. Because Plaintiff's March 1, 2012 alleged
onset date was considered and adjudicated in a prior
proceeding, the administrative law judge (“ALJ”)
considered May 27, 2014, the date on which Plaintiff's
first application was denied, as the onset date for
Plaintiff's applications for disability insurance
benefits and supplemental security income at issue here. R.
at 15. Plaintiff's applications were again denied, and
she requested a hearing before an ALJ. R. at 106. A hearing
was held in November 2015. R. at 36-55. In December 2015, the
ALJ issued his decision, finding Plaintiff was not disabled.
R. at 12-24.
rendering his decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff has the
following severe impairments: depressive disorder, anxiety
disorder, and personality disorder. R. at 18.
determined Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity
[P]erform a full range of work at all exertional levels but
with the following nonexertional limitations: she is limited
to simple, repetitive, routine tasks; limited to making
simple work-related decisions; limited to tolerating few or
infrequent changes in a routine work setting; occasional
interactions with supervisors and coworkers, and no contact
with the public.
19. Based upon the RFC and the vocational expert's
(“VE”) testimony, the ALJ concluded Plaintiff
could work as a hospital food service worker, industrial
cleaner, and folding machine operator. R. at 23. Plaintiff
appealed the ALJ's decision to the Appeals Council, which
denied her appeal. R. at 1-7. Plaintiff now appeals to this
argues the ALJ's decision must be reversed because (1)
the ALJ failed to properly weigh the opinion of
Plaintiff's treating physician, and (2) the ALJ failed to
properly evaluate Plaintiff's credibility.
Medical Opinion Evidence
claims the ALJ erred in affording “little weight”
to the opinion of her treating psychiatrist, Dr. Zafar
Mahmood. 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). The ALJ must ...