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 his applications for
disability and disability insurance benefits. For the
following reasons, the Commissioner's decision is
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 1964, and is a high school graduate who completed
some college coursework. R. at 49, 164, 316. He previously
worked as a bail bonding agent and a financial management
specialist. R. at 33, 49-51, 191. Plaintiff applied for
disability and disability insurance benefits, alleging an
onset date of October 1, 2012. R. at 22, 164-65.
Plaintiff's application was denied, and he requested a
hearing before an administrative law judge
(“ALJ”). R. at 86-94. A hearing was held in
February 2016. R. at 45-71. In March 2016, ALJ George Bock
issued his decision, finding Plaintiff was not disabled. R.
rendering his decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the
following severe impairments: bipolar disorder, depression,
and anxiety. R. at 24. The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to:
[P]erform medium work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(c). He
can lift and/or carry 25 pounds frequently and 50
occasionally; stand and/or walk for about 6 hours out of an
8-hour workday; and sit for about 6 hours out of an 8-hour
workday. Mentally, he is limited to repetitive work, which is
unskilled, simple, and does not involve any complex
R. at 27. Based upon the RFC and the vocational expert's
(“VE”) testimony, the ALJ concluded Plaintiff
could work as a dishwasher, salvage laborer, and hand
packager. R. at 34. Plaintiff appealed the ALJ's decision
to the Appeals Council, which denied his appeal. R. at 1-6.
Plaintiff now appeals to this Court.
argues the ALJ's decision must be reversed because (1)
the ALJ erred in weighing medical opinions in the record, and
(2) the ALJ failed to properly evaluate Plaintiff's
contends the ALJ erred in giving “little weight”
to the opinion of Plaintiff's treating psychiatrist, Dr.
Ekkehard Othmer, and in giving “great weight” to
consultative psychologist Dr. C. William Breckenridge's
opinion. Plaintiff also contends the RFC is not supported by
substantial evidence because the ALJ failed to include
limitations consistent with Plaintiff's complaints of
back pain and related medical opinions.
RFC is the “most you can still do despite your
limitations.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1545(a)(1).
“The ALJ is not required to rely entirely on a
particular physician's opinion” and must develop an
“RFC based on all relevant evidence, including medical
records, observations of treating physicians and others, and
claimant's own description of his limitations.”
Martise v. Astrue, 641F.3d 909, 926-27 (8th Cir.
2011) (citations and quotations omitted); Pearsall v.
Massanari, 274 F.3d 1211, 1217 (8th Cir. 2011).
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). However, 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). A consultative