United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
ROSEANN A. KETCHMARK, JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff's appeal brought under 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) seeking review of Defendant Commissioner of
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 AFFIRMED.
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 that Plaintiff has the
following severe impairments: right shoulder rotator cuff
syndrome, status post bursitis, moderate obesity, history of
left arm fracture, and mild degenerative joint disease of the
lumbar spine. The ALJ also determined that Plaintiff has the
following non-severe impairments: hypothyroid, depression,
anxiety, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
However, the ALJ found that none of Plaintiff's
impairments, whether considered alone or in combination, meet
or medically equals 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 limited
range of light work. The ALJ's RFC limited
Plaintiff's use of her right arm to lifting/carrying 10
pounds, no pushing or pulling, and no work above the
shoulder. In addition, Plaintiff cannot climb ladders, ropes,
or scaffolds; cannot crawl; and can only occasionally perform
all other postural activities. Although the ALJ found that
Plaintiff is unable to perform any past relevant work, the
ALJ found that considering Plaintiff's age, education,
work experience, and RFC, Plaintiff can perform jobs that
exist in significant numbers in the national economy.
appeal, Plaintiff raises several arguments in asserting that
the ALJ's physical RFC was unsupported by substantial
evidence. The Court is not persuaded. First, Plaintiff argues
that the ALJ's failure to address an opinion from Dr.
Tarbox is reversible error. Dr. Tarbox's findings,
however, are not inconsistent with the ALJ's
In addition, the ALJ gave good reasons for discounting
Plaintiff's treating surgeon, Dr. Kelly Ross. The ALJ
discounted Dr. Kelly Ross' opinion that Plaintiff is
precluded from lifting because no other source opined that
Plaintiff was unable to lift. The ALJ noted that Dr. Kelly
Ross' opinions that Plaintiff was disabled go to an issue
reserved to the Commissioner. Plaintiff also contends that
the ALJ did not explain why he did not adopt portions of the
opinions of Dr. Marvin Ross, Plaintiff's primary care
physician, and Dr. Rosenthal, who performed an examination
related to Plaintiff's workers' compensation claim.
But Plaintiff does not state why these opinions are material.
SSR 96-8p (ALJ must explain how any material inconsistencies
or ambiguities in the evidence were considered and resolved).
Although Plaintiff disputes the ALJ's treatment of the
medical opinion evidence in the record, “[i]t is not
the role of this court to reweigh the evidence presented to
the ALJ.” Hensley v. Colvin, 829 F.3d 926, 934
(8th Cir. 2016) (citation omitted).
Plaintiff raises several arguments regarding the ALJ's
assessment of her mental impairments. The Court again is not
persuaded. First, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ was required
to include limitations in the RFC related to his finding at
step 2 that Plaintiff had mild limitations in interacting
with others. A finding of mild limitations in mental
functioning at step 2, however, does not necessitate a
corresponding mental limitations in the RFC. Johnson v.
Berryhill, No. 3:17-CV-0416-DGK-SSA, 2018 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 86461, at *7 (W.D. Mo. May 23, 2018). Second, Plaintiff
argues that by giving no weight to Dr. Marvin Ross'
assessment of Plainitff's mental limitations, the ALJ
substituted his own medical expertise for that of the
treating physician. But the ALJ properly discounted Dr.
Marvin Ross' opinion because Dr. Marvin Ross was not a
mental health specialist and because significant mental
impairment was not supported in any other records. Although
an ALJ's RFC assessment “must be supported by some
medical evidence . . . there is no requirement that an RFC
finding be supported by a specific medical opinion.”
Hensley v. Colvin, 829 F.3d 926, 932 (8th Cir. 2016)
(citation omitted). Finally, substantial evidence on the
record as a whole supports the ALJ's findings that
Plaintiff's mental impairments-depression, anxiety, and
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder-were nonsevere. The
record shows Plaintiff underwent minimal treatment;
Plaintiff's mental impairments appeared to be controlled
with medication; and there were minimal examinination
findings and complaints.
Plaintiff contends that the vocational expert's
(“VE”) testimony does not provide substantial
evidence showing that Plaintiff can perform jobs in the
national economy because of an unresolved conflict between
the VE's testimony and the Dictionary of Occupational
Titles (“DOT”). The Court finds no error. Social
Security Ruling 00-4p requires the ALJ to question the VE to
“obtain a reasonable explanation for any conflicts
between” the VE's testimony and the DOT and explain
in the decision “how any conflict that has been
identified was resolved.” 2000 SSR LEXIS 8. Plaintiff
contends there is an unresolved conflict between the
limitations on Plaintiff's ability to reach overhead and
the requirements of jobs identified by the VE, which include
reaching in any direction. Programs Operations Manual (POMS)
DI 25001.001 at ¶ 65 (defining reaching as extending the
hands and arms in any direction). However, Plaintiff was
precluded from overhead work on her right side, not reaching
generally or even overhead reaching.
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 ALJ is