United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division
Steven Crawford, applied for disability benefits on June 18,
2014, alleging a disability onset date of January 28, 2014.
(Tr. at 12). The claim was denied initially and upon
reconsideration. Id. After conducting a hearing, the
Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") denied
Crawford's application. Id. 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 Crawford has requested judicial review.
reasons stated below, the Court affirms the decision of the
The Commissioner's Decision:
found that Crawford had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the alleged onset date of January 28, 2014.
(Tr. at 14). The ALJ found, at Step Two of the sequential
five-step analysis, that Crawford has the following severe
impairments: fracture of non-extremity and migraine
Three, the ALJ determined that Crawford's impairments did
not meet or equal a listed impairment. (Tr. at 15). Before
proceeding to Step Four, the ALJ determined that Crawford had
the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform
the full range of work at the medium level. Id.
Four, the ALJ relied on the testimony of a Vocational Expert
("VE") to find that, based on Crawford's age,
education, work experience and RFC, he could return to past
relevant work as a welder. (Tr. at 18). The ALJ made an
alternative finding, based upon VE testimony, that Crawford
could perform representative occupations of siding installer
and window installer. (Tr. at 19). Based on that
determination, the ALJ held that Crawford was not disabled.
Standard of Review The 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 less than a preponderance but more than
a scintilla. Slusser v. Astrue, 557 F.3d 923, 925
(8th Cir. 2009). In other words, it is "enough that a
reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the
ALJ's decision." Id. (citation omitted).
The Court must consider not only evidence that supports the
Commissioner's decision, but also evidence that supports
a contrary outcome. The Court cannot reverse the decision,
however, "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)).
Crawford's Arguments on Appeal
contends that substantial evidence does not support the
ALJ's decision to deny benefits. He argues that the RFC
should have included non-exertional limitations because of
Crawford's headaches. For the following reasons, the
Court finds that substantial evidence supports the ALJ's
was assaulted on January 29, 2014, and as a result, suffered
multiple fractures in his face. (Tr. at 331-338, 355,
370-372). He complained of headache and face pain. (Tr. at
331). He underwent surgery to repair the fractures. (Tr. at
370). Crawford was prescribed pain medication and Topamax
(Imitrex) for headaches. (Tr. at 370-379). On June 6, 2014,
Crawford told Sarah Hitt, Nurse Practitioner, that the
Imitrex was not working. (Tr. at 376-377).
Hitt filled out a medical source statement on July 17, 2014,
having only seen Crawford twice. (Tr. at 412). She said that
he suffered daily, constant headaches lasting 3-4 hours.
Id. While she checked the box saying that his
headaches did not interfere with his ability to work, she
then wrote that he would only be able to work half the day,
2-3 days a week. Id. Ms. Hitt did not cite to any
objective testing or clinical notes, and her opinion on the
ability to work was inconsistent. Guilliams v.
Barnhart, 393 F.3d 798, 803 (8th Cir.
2005)(“physician opinions that are internally
inconsistent . . . are entitled to less deference than they
would receive in the absence of inconsistencies.”)
Moreover, checkbox medical source statements are not entitled
to great weight, and Ms. Hitt was not an acceptable medical
source. Anderson v. Astrue, 696 F.3d 790, 794 (8th
Cir. 2012); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404. 1527(e), 416.927(e);
SSR 96-5p). The ALJ properly afforded Ms. Hitt's
statement some weight, but not controlling weight. He relied
in part upon her statement, but paired it with the opinions
of the state-agency doctors, who opined that Crawford could
do medium work. (Tr. at 70, 82). The ALJ properly evaluated
the opinion evidence.
September 2, 2014, Crawford presented to Ms. Hitt with face
pain and headache, because he had fallen and hit a pole. (Tr.