United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Central Division
ANDREW D. CLARDY, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Defendant.
ROSEANN A. KETCHMARK, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
the Court is Plaintiff's appeal seeking judicial review
of a final decision of the Defendant Commissioner of Social
Security (“Commissioner”) denying disability
benefits. The decision of the Commissioner is
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.” KKC v. Colvin, 818 F.3d 364, 374 (8th
Cir. 2016) (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, but enough that a reasonable mind would find
it adequate to support the [Commissioner's]
conclusion.” Gann v. Berryhill, 864 F.3d 947,
950 (8th Cir. 2017). In determining whether existing evidence
is substantial, the Court takes into account “evidence
that both supports and detracts from the ALJ's
[Administrative Law Judge] decision.” Milam v.
Colvin, 794 F.3d 978, 983 (8th Cir. 2015) (quoting
Perkins v. Asture, 648 F.3d 892, 897 (8th Cir.
2011)). “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 v. Apfel, 239 F.3d 962, 966 (8th Cir. 2001)).
The Court does not re-weigh the evidence presented to the
ALJ. Reece v. Colvin, 834 F.3d 904, 908 (8th Cir.
2016). The Court should “defer heavily to the findings
and conclusions of the [Commissioner].” Wright v.
Colvin, 789 F.3d 847, 852 (8th Cir. 2015) (quotation and
of overview, the ALJ determined Plaintiff suffers from the
following severe impairments: mood disorder, antisocial
personality disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, and
alcohol dependency in early full remission. The ALJ also
determined Plaintiff has the following non-severe
impairments: obesity, hypertension, hypertriglyceridemia,
psoriasis, degenerative disc disease, and edema in the lower
extremities. 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
(“Listing”). After consideration of the entire
record, the ALJ found that despite his limitations, Plaintiff
retained the residual functional capacity (“RFC”)
to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels with
certain nonexertional limitations. The ALJ incorporated the
following nonexertional limitations into Plaintiff's RFC:
he was capable of understanding, remembering, and carrying
out simple instructions; he could relate appropriately to
coworkers and supervisors but only in small numbers and for
short periods of time; he would work best if working
independently; and he could have no contact with the public.
Next, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the RFC to perform his
past relevant work as a clutch rebuilder. The ALJ went on to
determine that, considering Plaintiff's age, education,
work experience, and RFC, Plaintiff was able to perform other
jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national
economy. Based on her finding that Plaintiff was able to
work, the ALJ found Plaintiff was not disabled.
appeal, Plaintiff's only argument is that when
formulating the RFC, the ALJ improperly weighed the medical
opinion of Fatten Elkomy, a psychiatric nurse practitioner.
security separates information sources into two main groups:
acceptable medical sources and other
sources. It then divides other sources into two
main groups: medical sources and non-medical
sources.” Lawson v. Colvin, 807 F.3d 962,
967 (8th Cir. 2015) (emphasis in original) (quoting Sloan
v. Astrue, 499 F.3d 883, 888 (8th Cir. 2007) (citing 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1402, 416.902 (2007)). As compared to
an “acceptable medical source” whose opinion may
be entitled to controlling weight, the opinion of a nurse
practitioner falls under the group of other medical sources.
Id. at 967 (citing Lacroix v. Barnhart, 465
F.3d 881, 887 (8th Cir. 2006)); see Social Security
Ruling (“SSR”) 06-03p, 2006 SSR LEXIS 5, at *4.
Other medical sources may present evidence “to show the
severity of [a claimant's] impairment(s) and how it
affects [a claimant's] ability to function.”
Chesser v. Berryhill, 858 F.3d 1161, 1166-67 (8th
Cir. 2017) (quoting SSR 06-03p (other citations omitted)). In
determining what weight to give that evidence, “the ALJ
has more discretion and is permitted to consider any
inconsistencies found within the record.”
Lawson, 807 F.3d at 967 (quoting Raney v.
Barnhart, 396 F.3d 1007, 1010 (8th Cir. 2005)).
Ms. Elkomy opined that Plaintiff would miss up to five days
of work per month due to his mental impairments, and that
Plaintiff's primary impediment to working was his
inability to control his anger and his violent tendencies.
The ALJ gave “only little weight” to Ms.
Elkomy's statements. In considering the opinion, the ALJ
noted that Ms. Elkomy is not an acceptable medical source.
The ALJ then explained that Ms. Elkomy's statements were
inconsistent with Plaintiff's ability to care for his
daughter, which according to the ALJ, suggested that Ms.
Elkomy's statements were based on Plaintiff's
subjective complaints. The ALJ further reasoned that Ms.
Elkomy's statements were not supported by the objective
mental status examination findings in the record that showed
Plaintiff's condition had been consistently stable.
See Michel v. Colvin, 640 F. App'x 585, 594-95
(8th Cir. 2016) (finding that the ALJ was entitled to give
less weight to an “other medical source” opinion
as to the claimant's ability to work on a full-time basis
where the opinion was largely based on the claimant's
subjective complaints and not on objective medical evidence).
Accordingly, the ALJ appropriately weighed Ms. Elkomy's
opinion along with the other record evidence in establishing
carefully reviewed the record before the Court and the
parties' submissions on appeal, the Court concludes that
substantial evidence on the record as a whole supports the
THEREFORE ORDERED that the decision of the Commissioner is