United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
DONNA L. STERRETT, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SSA; Defendant.
ROSEANN A. KETCHMARK, JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff's appeal seeking judicial review
of a final decision of the Defendant Commissioner of Social
Security (“Commissioner”) denying her application
for disability benefits. For the reasons below, the
Commissioner's decision is AFFIRMED.
Court's review of the Commissioner's decision to deny
disability benefits is limited to determining if the decision
“complies with the relevant legal requirements and is
supported by substantial evidence in the record as a
whole.” Halverson v. Astrue, 600 F.3d 922, 929
(8th Cir. 2010) (quoting Ford v. Astrue, 518 F.3d
979, 981 (8th Cir. 2008)); see also 42 U.S.C. §
405(g). “Substantial evidence is less than a
preponderance of the evidence, but is ‘such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind would find adequate to support
the [Commissioner's] conclusion.'” Grable
v. Colvin, 770 F.3d 1196, 1201 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Davis v. Apfel, 239 F.3d 962, 966 (8th Cir. 2001)).
In determining whether existing evidence is substantial, the
Court takes into account evidence that both supports and
detracts from the Administrative Law Judge's
(“ALJ”) findings. Cline v. Colvin, 771
F.3d 1098, 1102 (8th Cir. 2014) (quotation marks omitted).
“If the ALJ's decision is supported by substantial
evidence, [the Court] may not reverse even if substantial
evidence would support the opposite outcome or [the Court]
would have decided differently.” Smith v.
Colvin, 756 F.3d 621, 625 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Davis, 239 F.3d at 966). The Court does not re-weigh
the evidence presented to the ALJ. Guilliams v.
Barnhart, 393 F.3d 798, 801 (8th Cir. 2005) (citing
Baldwin v. Barnhart, 349 F.3d 549, 555 (8th Cir.
2003)). The Court should “defer heavily to the findings
and conclusions of the [Commissioner].” Hurd v.
Astrue, 621 F.3d 734, 738 (8th Cir. 2010) (citation
of overview, the ALJ determined the Plaintiff suffered from
the following severe impairments: mental impairments
variously diagnosed as depression, anxiety, bipolar, and
panic disorder without agoraphobia. However, the ALJ found
that none of Plaintiff's impairments, whether considered
alone or in combination, meet or medically equal the criteria
of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Pt. 404, Subpt. P,
App. 1. Despite Plaintiff's impairments, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform a full range of work at all
exertional levels with some nonexertional
limitations. The ALJ found Plaintiff incapable of
performing past relevant work but found that Plaintiff is
capable of performing jobs that exist in significant numbers
in the national economy. In doing so, the ALJ relied on
testimony from the vocational expert that Plaintiff would be
able to perform the requirements of a mailroom clerk,
sandwich maker, and office helper. Therefore, the ALJ
determined Plaintiff was not disabled.
appeal, Plaintiff alleges errors related to: (1) whether the
ALJ's RFC determination is supported by substantial
evidence of the record as a whole, claiming errors related to
weighing medical opinions, GAF scores, third-party opinions,
and a disability determination made by the VA; and (2)
whether the ALJ erred in relying on testimony of the
vocational expert without explaining discrepancies between
the testimony and the Dictionary of Occupational Titles
review of the parties' briefs and the record, the Court
finds the ALJ was entitled to discount the evidence and
opinions of record that are inconsistent with the record as a
whole. Additionally, substantial evidence (Dr. Stacy's
medical opinions; Dr. Smith's treatment notes; treatment
notes finding memory seems intact; treatment notes finding
thought content clear and goal directed; treatment notes
observing adequate hygiene and appearance; Plaintiff's
activities including driving, attending church, emailing,
chores, and caring for children and pets; Plaintiff's
dating; and the apparent organization and presentation of
Plaintiff's case to the ALJ) supports the ALJ's RFC
determination. Because the ALJ properly weighed and
considered the evidence of record and the ALJ's RFC
determination is supported by substantial evidence, the Court
cannot reverse even though there is some evidence (medical
opinions of Drs. Smith and Sumerall; third-party opinions;
GAF scores; and a disability determination by the VA) that
may support the opposite conclusion. Additionally, the Court
finds that the vocational expert's testimony, at least
with respect to the mail clerk position, is not inconsistent
with the RFC. See Martin v. Berryhill, 2017 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 137718, at *12 (W.D. Mo. Aug. 28, 2017) (finding
a mail clerk position as listed in the DOT was not
inconsistent with an RFC that limited plaintiff to simple
work) (citing Welsh v. Colvin, 765 F.3d 926, 930
(8th Cir. 2014)).
Having carefully reviewed the record before the Court and the
parties' submissions on appeal, the Commissioner's
decision is AFFIRMED.
IS SO ORDERED.
 Nancy A. Berryhill became the Acting
Commissioner of Social Security on January 23, 2017, however,
for consistency purposes, the case style in this action