United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION
VOLPE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
recommended disposition has been submitted to United States
District Judge J. Leon Holmes. The parties may file specific
objections to these findings and recommendations and must
provide the factual or legal basis for each objection. The
objections must be filed with the Clerk no later than
fourteen (14) days from the date of the findings and
recommendations. A copy must be served on the opposing party.
The District Judge, even in the absence of objections, may
reject these proposed findings and recommendations in whole
or in part.
Bartholomew Duckett, has appealed the final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration to deny
his claim for supplemental security income. Both parties have
submitted briefs and the case is ready for a decision.
court's function on review is to determine whether the
Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial
evidence on the record as a whole and free of legal error.
Slusser v. Astrue, 557 F.3d 923, 925 (8th Cir.
2009); Long v. Chater, 108 F.3d 185, 187 (8th Cir.
1997); see also 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g),
1383(c)(3). Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as
a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401
(1971); Reynolds v. Chater, 82 F.3d 254, 257 (8th
assessing the substantiality of the evidence, courts must
consider evidence that detracts from the Commissioner's
decision as well as evidence that supports it; a court may
not, however, reverse the Commissioner's decision merely
because substantial evidence would have supported an opposite
decision. Sultan v. Barnhart, 368 F.3d 857, 863 (8th
Cir. 2004); Woolf v. Shalala, 3 F.3d 1210, 1213 (8th
Cir. 1993). After careful review of the pleadings and
evidence in this case, I find the Commissioner's decision
is supported by substantial evidence and recommend the
Complaint be DISMISSED.
is fifty-two years old. (Tr. 48) He testified he earned a
general equivalence degree. (Id.)
alleges he is disabled due to “diabetes, mental health,
gout, thyroid, acid reflux, bowel problem, thyroid problem,
sleep apnea, [and] high blood pressure.” (Tr. 148) The
found Mr. Duckett had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since April 16, 2012 - the application date. (Tr.
12) He has “severe” impairments in the form of
diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, a history of lumbar
compression fracture, antisocial personality disorder, and a
history of polysubstance abuse. (Id.) The ALJ
further found Mr. Duckett did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments meeting or equaling an impairment
listed in 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpart P, Appendix
determined Mr. Duckett had the residual functional capacity
to perform a reduced range of light work. (Tr. 15) He
determined Mr. Duckett could no longer perform his past work
as a truck driver, so he utilized the services of a
vocational expert to determine whether other work existed in
significant numbers that Plaintiff could perform despite his
impairments. (Tr. 17-18, 65-68) Through asking hypothetical
questions of the vocational expert, the ALJ assessed that Mr.
Duckett could perform the jobs of production assembler and
cashier. (Tr. 65-68, 18) Accordingly, the ALJ determined Mr.
Duckett was not disabled. (Id.)
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for a review
of the ALJ's decision, making his decision the final
decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-3) Plaintiff filed the
instant Complaint initiating this appeal. (Doc. No. 2.)
support of his Complaint, Plaintiff raises several arguments.
He believes the ALJ erred in determining his gout was not a
“severe” impairment, improperly evaluated the
evidence from his treating and evaluating doctors, made an
incorrect residual functional capacity assessment, and asked
improper hypothetical questions of the vocational expert.
(Doc. No. 11.)
regard to his first argument, Plaintiff contends the findings
of his treating physician, Derek Lewis, M.D., should
constitute substantial evidence. Generally, this is true. But
as the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
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). Indeed, when the treating
physician's opinion is supported by proper medical
testing, and is not inconsistent with other substantial
evidence in the record, the ALJ must give the opinion
controlling weight. Id. “However, [a]n ALJ may
discount or even disregard the opinion of a treating
physician where other medical assessments are supported by
better or more thorough medical evidence, or where a treating
physician renders inconsistent opinions that undermine the
credibility of such opinions.” Wildman v.
Astrue, 596 F.3d 959, 964 (8th Cir.2010) (alteration in