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 suffers from
the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease
of the cervical and lumbar spine; obesity; asthma;
osteoarthritis of the right knee; and bilateral carpel tunnel
syndrome. The ALJ also determined that Plaintiff has the
following non-severe impairments: hypertension; inflammatory
bowel disease; gastroesophageal reflux disease; stress
incontinence; genital carcinoma; MRSA cellulitis without
signs of immunosuppression; rheumatoid arthritis; migraine
headaches; mild osteoarthritis; carpel tunnel syndrome; and
history of asthma. 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 light work
with the following exceptions: Plaintiff can occasionally
balance, stoop, kneel, and/or climb ramps and stairs; never
crouch, crawl, climb ladders, climb ropes, or climb
scaffolds; frequently use the upper extremities for handling
bilaterally; avoid frequent exposure to extreme cold, extreme
heat, wetness, humidity, vibration, and pulmonary irritants
such as fumes, odors, dusts, gases, and poor ventilation; and
avoid hazards such as dangerous machinery and unprotected
heights. Although the ALJ found that Plaintiff is unable to
perform any past relevant work, the ALJ determined 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 argues the ALJ's RFC determination is
not supported by substantial evidence because it does not
award sufficient weight to Dr. Dennis Velez, M.D.'s
opinion. Dr. Velez was a consultative examiner, and
the ALJ gave Dr. Velez's opinion little weight for the
following reasons: Dr. Velez only examined Plaintiff once,
over two years prior to the ALJ's decision; Dr.
Velez's opinion is vague and internally inconsistent; and
Dr. Velez's findings appear to be largely based on
Plaintiff's subjective complaints. It is the
province of the ALJ to weigh the medical opinions of record,
formulate the plaintiff's RFC, and make the ultimate
disability determination. Renstrom v. Astrue, 680
F.3d 1057, 1064-65 (8th Cir. 2012).
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
ALJ's decision. Accordingly, the decision of the ALJ is
IS SO ORDERED.
 Dr. Velez opined that Plaintiff
“would not have any limitations with regards to sitting
or standing, however, she would have difficulties walking,
lifting and carrying for more than one-third of the time,
especially if required to squat.” (Tr. 261.)
 For instance, Dr. Velez opined that
Plaintiff would have difficulty walking more than one-third
of the time; however, Dr. Velez did not provide any
limitations on Plaintiff's ability to stand. Dr. Velez
did not provide how much weight would be required to inhibit
Plaintiff's lifting or carrying abilities. Despite Dr.
Velez's restrictive findings, it appears his restrictive
opinion was largely based on Plaintiff's subjective
complaints because Dr. Velez's treatment notes indicated
Plaintiff had normal gait and stance, full upper and lower
extremity strength, normal knee range of motion, and a normal
motor and sensory examination. See Pearsall v.
Massanari, 274 F.3d 1211, 1219 (8th Cir. 2001) (the ALJ
may discount or reject a medical opinion when that opinion is
inconsistent with the record as a whole); Hacker v.
Barnhart, 459 F.3d 934, 937 (8th Cir. 2006) (a
physician's own inconsistencies may undermine his opinion
and diminish or eliminate the weight ...