United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
ORDER AFFIRMING COMMISSIONER
Gregory Adams has appealed the final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying
his claim for supplemental security income. Both parties have
submitted appeal briefs and the case is ready for
Adams alleged that he became limited in his ability to work
due to depression, human immunodeficiency virus
(“HIV”), and lack of sleep. (SSA record at 150)
After conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) concluded that Mr.
Adams had not been under a disability within the meaning of
the Social Security Act at any time from March 23, 2012,
through February 27, 2014, the date of his decision.
(Id. at 27) On July 7, 2015, the Appeals Council
denied the request for a review of the ALJ's decision,
making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. (Id. at 3-6) Mr. Adams then filed his
complaint initiating this appeal. (Docket #3)
Adams was 48 years old at the time of the hearing and lived
with a friend. (SSA record at 36, 40) He had a twelfth-grade
education but did not graduate from high school.
(Id. at 52) He had past relevant work as a salvage
worker and line cook and last worked in 2011 as a cashier.
(Id. at 36-38, 142)
found that Mr. Adams had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since his alleged onset date and that his HIV;
adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood;
and history of cocaine and alcohol abuse were severe
impairments. (Id. at 15) He further found that Mr.
Adams's allegations regarding the intensity, persistence,
and limiting effects of his symptoms were not entirely
credible. (Id. at 17-23)
on his findings, the ALJ concluded that, during the relevant
time period, Mr. Adams retained the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) for sedentary work, except he
could only occasionally stoop, crouch, kneel, bend and crawl;
was restricted to an indoor environment without temperature
extremes; and could only perform work that was simple,
routine, and repetitive with supervision that was simple,
direct and concrete. (Id. at 17-25)
hearing testimony from a vocational expert, the ALJ
determined that Mr. Adams could not perform his past relevant
work, but that he could perform work as a lamp shade
assembler and document preparer. (Id. at 26) Thus,
the ALJ concluded, Mr. Adams was not disabled. (Id.
Adams generally challenges the ALJ's decision, but
focuses on the weight given to the opinions of his treating
physicians and the assessment of his RFC. (#3) He argues the
medical evidence supports more limitation than the ALJ found.
For these reasons, he says, substantial evidence does not
support the 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.
Papesh v. Colvin, 786 F.3d 1126, 1131(8th Cir.
2015); see also 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g). 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); Phillips v.
Astrue, 671 F.3d 699, 702 (8th Cir. 2012).
treating physician's opinion should be granted
controlling weight if it is well supported by medically
acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques and
is not inconsistent with the other substantial evidence in
the record. Miller v. Colvin, 784 F.3d 472, 477 (8th
Cir. 2015). The opinion of a treating physician, however,
does not automatically control or eliminate the need to
evaluate the record as a whole. Id. (quoting
Hogan v. Apfel, 239 F.3d 958, 961 (8th Cir. 2001)).
An ALJ may discount or disregard the opinion of a treating
physician when 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 the opinions. Id. (citations
omitted). Further, a medical source opinion that ...