United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division
Bradley Lewis applied for disability benefits on April 1,
2014, alleging a disability onset date of January 23, 2014.
(Tr. at 93-96) After conducting a hearing, the Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied his application. (Tr. at
89) The Appeals Council denied his request for review. (Tr.
at 1) The ALJ's decision now stands as the final decision
of the Commissioner, and Mr. Lewis has requested judicial
reasons stated below, the Court affirms the decision of the
The Commissioner's Decision:
found that Mr. Lewis had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the alleged onset date. (Tr. at 82) At Step
Two of the five-step process, the ALJ found that Mr. Lewis
has the following severe impairments: diabetes mellitus,
hypertension, dyslipidemia, and morbid obesity. Id.
finding that Mr. Lewis's impairments did not meet or
equal a listed impairment (Tr. at 82), the ALJ determined
that Mr. Lewis had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform sedentary work with additional
limitations. He could: lift and carry 10 pounds occasionally
and less than 10 pounds frequently; stand and/or walk two
hours in an eight-hour workday; sit six hours in an
eight-hour workday with a sit/stand option of sitting for
one-hour intervals and standing for 30-minute intervals; and
push and/or pull 10 pounds occasionally and less than 10
pounds frequently. (Tr. at 83) He could not climb more than
one or two stairs. Id.
found that Mr. Lewis was unable to perform his past relevant
work. (Tr. at 87) At Step Five, the ALJ relied on the
testimony of a Vocational Expert ("VE") to find
that, based on Mr. Lewis's age, education, work
experience and RFC, jobs existed in significant numbers in
the national economy that he could perform at the sedentary
level. (Tr. at 88) Based on that Step Five determination, the
ALJ held that Mr. Lewis was not disabled. (Tr. at 89)
Standard of Review
Court's role is to determine whether the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence. Prosch v. Apfel, 201 F.3d 1010, 1012 (8th
Cir. 2000). “Substantial evidence” in this
context means “enough that a reasonable mind would find
it adequate to support the ALJ's decision.”
Slusser v. Astrue, 557 F.3d 923, 925 (8th Cir.
2009)(citations omitted). The Court must consider not only
evidence that supports the Commissioner's decision, but
also evidence that supports a contrary outcome. Even so, the
Court cannot reverse the Commissioner's decision,
“merely because substantial evidence exists for the
opposite decision.” Long v. Chater, 108 F.3d
185, 187 (8th Cir. 1997) (quoting Johnson v. Chater,
87 F.3d 1015, 1017 (8th Cir. 1996)).
Lewis's Argument on Appeal
Lewis argues that substantial evidence does not support the
ALJ's decision to deny benefits because the ALJ's
Step Five determination that he could perform other work in
the national economy was error. He alleges that he cannot
perform even limited sedentary work.
Lewis only addresses his obesity in his brief, but the Court
finds that the evidence supports the conclusion that no
impairment, singly or in combination, precludes sedentary
November 14, 2011, Mr. Lewis underwent surgery to repair a
torn Achilles tendon in his left foot. (Tr. at 318) On
December 18, 2013, he presented to Ruth Thomas, M.D., who
found that he was doing well since surgery and was able to
increase his mobility. Id. This contrasts with Dr.
Ronald Smith's conclusion that Mr. Lewis “got very
poor results” from the surgery. (Tr. at 321-323)
Physician opinions that are inconsistent are entitled to less
deference than they would receive in the absence of
inconsistencies. Guilliams v. Barnhart, 393 F.3d
798, 803 (8th Cir. 2005); Brown v. ...