United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Southern Division
ROSEANN A. KETCHMARK, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
the Court is Plaintiff's appeal brought under 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) seeking review of Defendant Social Security
Administration's (“SSA”) denial of disability
benefits as rendered in a decision by an Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”). For the reasons below, the
decision of the ALJ is REMANDED.
Court's review of the ALJ'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)). “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 [ALJ'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 detracts from
the [ALJ's] decision as well as evidence that supports
it.” Cline v. Colvin, 771 F.3d 1098, 1102 (8th
Cir. 2014) (citation 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) (citing Davis v. Apfel, 239 F.3d
962, 966 (8th Cir. 2001)). 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 must “defer heavily to the findings
and conclusions of the [ALJ].” Hurd v. Astrue,
621 F.3d 734, 738 (8th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted).
of overview, the ALJ determined Plaintiff suffers from the
following severe impairments: learning disability and
depression (situational). The ALJ also determined that
Plaintiff's historic complaints of lower extremity
weakness and historic diagnosis of MRSA are non-severe.
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”). Additionally, the ALJ found that
despite her limitations, Plaintiff retained the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a full
range of work at all exertional levels but with the following
non-exertional limitations: Plaintiff can understand,
remember, and carry out simple instructions and non-detailed
tasks, further defined as SPV2 work; Plaintiff can perform
work at a normal pace of an average worker; and Plaintiff
cannot perform work where there are hourly quotas. Although
the ALJ found that Plaintiff was unable to perform any past
relevant work, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was not
disabled, and that considering Plaintiff's age,
education, work experience, and RFC, there are jobs that
exist in significant numbers in the national economy that
Plaintiff can perform.
appeal, Plaintiff argues the ALJ's RFC determination is
improper because the ALJ failed to include Dr.
Whetstone's opined moderate limitations in the RFC, and
the ALJ filed to provide any reason or indication for
discounting these limitations. Dr. Whetstone opined that
Plaintiff would have moderate limitations in the following
areas: understanding and memory as to her ability to remember
short and simple instructions; social interactions; and
adaptation to changes in the work environment. The ALJ's RFC
addresses Dr. Whetstone's limitation that Plaintiff would
have moderate difficulty in her ability to understand,
remember, and carry out simple instructions. However, the ALJ
did not incorporate Dr. Whetstone's remaining moderate
limitations into the RFC or provide reasons for discounting
them. See Richardson v. Colvin, 2017 WL 6420283, at
*7 (W.D. Mo. Dec. 12, 2017) (remand was warranted when the
ALJ failed to include a doctor's opined limitations in
the RFC or explain their omission); Trotter v.
Colvin, 2015 WL 5785548, at * 4 (W.D. Mo. Oct. 2, 2015)
(remand was required because the ALJ gave the doctor's
opinion weight but did not provide any explanation for
omitting portions of the doctor's opinion).
remand, the ALJ should reevaluate Dr. Whetstone's opined
moderate limitations. If the ALJ determines that Dr.
Whetstone's opined moderate limitations should be
disregarded, the ALJ should provide specific, reasoned
explanations for that decision.
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 is insufficient
to support the ALJ's decision. Accordingly, the decision
of the Commissioner is REMANDED pursuant to
sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for further
proceedings consistent with this opinion.
IS SO ORDERED.
 Dr. Whetstone performed a
neuropsychological examination of Plaintiff in September
2014. Dr. Whetstone also submitted a mental medical source