United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division
ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER
Gentry (“Gentry”) applied for social security
disability benefits with an alleged disability onset date of
October 18, 2012. (R. at 71). After a hearing, the
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) denied his
applications. (R. at 37)
Appeals Council denied Gentry's request for review (R. at
1), thereby making the ALJ's decision the final decision
of the Commissioner. Gentry has requested judicial
reasons stated below, this Court affirms the ALJ's
The Commissioner's Decision
found that Gentry had the severe impairments of
osteoarthritis of the knees, degenerative joint disease of
the knees, and degenerative disk disease of the lumbar spine.
(R. at 28). Based on the medical evidence, the ALJ concluded
that Gentry's impairments left him with the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform sedentary
work, with the additional restrictions of only occasionally
stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling; never climbing
ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; avoiding concentrated exposure
to hazards such as unprotected heights or dangerous moving
machinery; and occasionally performing bilateral foot
controls. (R. at 30). Because this RFC precluded Gentry from
performing any of his past relevant work (R. at 36), the ALJ
took testimony from a vocational expert (“VE”).
According to the VE, a person of Gentry's age, education,
work experience, and RFC could perform other jobs such as
lamp shade assembler, document preparer, or telephone quote
clerk. (R. at 36-37). Thus, the ALJ held that Gentry was not
disabled. (R. at 37).
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 whether it is based on
legal error. Miller v. Colvin, 784 F.3d 472, 477
(8th Cir. 2015); see also 42 U.S.C. §
405(g). While “substantial evidence” is that
which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion, “substantial evidence on the record as a
whole” requires a court to engage in a more
“[O]ur review is more than an examination of the record
for the existence of substantial evidence in support of the
Commissioner's decision; we also take into account
whatever in the record fairly detracts from that
decision.” Reversal is not warranted, however,
“merely because substantial evidence would have
supported an opposite decision.”
Reed v. Barnhart, 399 F.3d 917, 920 (8th Cir. 2005)
argues that: (1) the ALJ failed to give proper weight to the
opinion of his treating physician; and (2) the ALJ's
decision is not supported by medical evidence. The Court will
address each of those arguments separately.
treating physician, Roland Hollis, M.D., opined that Gentry
could not perform any job. (R. at 389, 390, 500). He later
completed a medical source statement in which he indicated
that: Gentry's carrying capacity is limited to ten pounds
occasionally and less than ten pounds frequently; Gentry
could stand/walk for less than two hours in an eight-hour
workday and less than thirty minutes continually; Gentry
could only sit for two hours in an eight-hour workday and was
limited to one hour continuously; and Gentry could only
frequently finger, and only occasionally handle. (R. at
550-51). Dr. Hollis also indicated that Gentry would miss
more than three days of work per month and require frequent
rest periods, longer than normal breaks, and the ability to
shift from sitting to standing at will. (R. at 550-51). The
ALJ gave this opinion little weight, stating that it was
inconsistent with Dr. Hollis's treatment notes and the
rest of the evidence in the record. (R. at 33-34).
argues that Dr. Hollis's opinion is consistent with his
treatment records and other evidence in the medical record.
To support this argument, Gentry points to Dr. Hollis once
noting that Gentry could not squat or climb and could not
stand or walk very long; was limping during a visit; and had
decreased range of motion due to pain. (R. at 399, 400, 499).
However, nothing in the treatment records indicates that
Gentry is as limited as Dr. Hollis states in his opinions.
Furthermore, the records that Gentry points to are from
before he had a right knee arthroscopy on February 18, 2015.
(R. at 508). It is also significant that Dr. Hollis's
medical source statement was prepared only five days after
this surgery. (R. at 551).
the surgery, Gentry reported no significant pain to Travis
Richardson, D.O., who performed the surgery. (R. at 553).
Records show a significant decline in Gentry's pain after
post-surgery physical therapy. (R. at 558). Additionally,
records received after the ALJ's decision show that
Gentry told Dr. Richardson on December 10, 2015 that
“volteran patches and copper sleeves have taken all of
his knee pain away.” (R. at 601). The same record
indicates that Gentry's back pain responded positively to
treatments as well. (R. at 601). Dr. Richardson planned to
continue conservative care for Gentry's back and shoulder
pain, indicating that the conditions may not be severe. (R.
at 603). Gentry indicated in September 2015 that
radiofrequency treatments had reduced his back pain by
80-90%. (R, at 594). Because Gentry's impairments were
largely responsive to treatment, those conditions are not
considered disabling. See Turpin v. Colvin, 750 F.3d
989, 993 (8th Cir. 2014).
also contends that the ALJ's decision is not supported by
necessary medical evidence because the ALJ gave little weight
to the opinions of Dr. Hollis and a consultative examiner and
relied on the non-examining state agency consultants'
opinions. However, the ALJ gave a more restrictive RFC than
the state agency consultants. (R. at ...