United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Timothy L. Brooks, United States District Judge.
before the Cour is the Repor and Recommendation
("R&R") (Doc. 13) of the Honorable Erin L.
Wiedemann, Chief United States Magistrate Judge for the
Western District of Arkansas, filed in this case on September
7, 2018. Plaintif Deana Allen requests judicial review of the
decision to deny her claims fr a period of disabilit and
disability insurance benefits ("D18") and
supplemental social securit income ("SSI") benefits
under the provisions of Titles 11 and XVI of the Social
Magistrate Judge recommends afrming the Administrative Law
Judge's ("ALJ") determination that Allen is not
entitled to DIB and SSI benefits. In Plaintifs objections,
she argues that the ALJ engaged in "impermissible
medical conjecture" in giving little weight to the
medical opinions of Dr. William Kendrick, Plaintifs treating
physician. (Doc. 14 at 2). Plaintifs objection specifically
perains to the ALJ giving little weight to Dr. Kendrick's
interpretation of Plaintifs lumbar MRI, while afording great
weight to the opinion of the state agency's medical
light of Allen's objections, the Cour has underaken a de
nova review of the record, and afer doing so, finds that the
Objections ofer neither fact nor law justifing deviating from
the Magistrate Judge's recommendation. Accordingly, the
R&R will be ADOPTED IN ITS ENTIRETY.
reviewing a decision of an ALJ, the Court must determine if
the decision is supported by substantial evidence in the
record. Flynn v. Chater, 107 F.3d 617, 620 (8th Cir.
1997); see also 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2017).
Substantial evidence is "less than a
preponderance." Rodysill v. Colvin, 745 F.3d
947, 949 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Jones v. Astrue,
619 F.3d 963, 968 (8th Cir. 2010)). Additionally, substantial
evidence is "relevant evidence that a reasonable mind
would accept as adequate to support the Commissioner's
conclusion." Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065,
1068 (8th Cir. 2000). The Court considers both evidence that
supports the ALJ's decision alongside evidence that
detracts. Rodysill, 745 F.3d at 949.
substantial evidence supports the ALJ's conclusion, the
Court cannot reverse simply because substantial evidence also
supports a different outcome. Jones, 619 F.3d at
968; Haley v. Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747 (8th Cir.
2001). Essentially, if "after reviewing the record, the
court finds that it is possible to draw two inconsistent
positions from the evidence and one of those positions
represents the ALJ's findings, the court must affirm the
ALJ's decision." Goffv. Barnhart, 421 F.3d
785, 790-91 (8th Cir. 2005). In considering medical records
and opinions, an ALJ possess the discretion to "discount
an opinion of a treating physician that is inconsistent with
the physician's clinical treatment notes."
Davidson v. Astrue, 578 F.3d 838, 843 (8th Cir.
makes two objections to the R&R, both of which stem from
the ALJ's decision to give little weight to the opinion
of Dr. Kendrick. (Doc. 14 at 2). Plaintiff asserts these
issues were not considered in the R&R. Id.
Plaintiff argues the ALJ engaged in "improper medical
conjecture" by giving Dr. Kendrick's opinion,
specifically his interpretation of the Plaintiff's lumbar
MRI, little weight. Id. at 2. This Court finds that
the ALJ gave appropriate weight to Dr. Kendrick's
opinion. The ALJ ultimately diminished the weight given Dr.
Kendrick's opinion because of inconsistencies with his
treatment notes. (Doc. 9 at 22); Goff, 421 F.3d at
790-91 (noting that "an appropriate finding of
inconsistency with other evidence alone is sufficient to
discount [a treating physician's] opinion").
Plaintiff argues that the state agency medical
consultants' opinions are insufficient to support the
ALJ's decision because they did not consider or interpret
Plaintiffs lumbar MRI. (Doc. 14 at 3). Essentially, Plaintiff
argues that because Dr. Kendrick's opinion was given
little weight by the ALJ and the state agency did not
consider the MRI, an "evidentiary deficit" emerges
that cannot be reasonably resolved by the ALJ's own
interpretation. Id. This Court finds that the ALJ
afforded appropriate weight to both Dr. Kendrick and the
state agency consultants under the substantial evidence
standard. As a result, the ALJ properly contemplated the
results of Plaintiffs lumbar MRI. The ALJ did not reject
outright the opinion of Dr. Kendrick as Plaintiff suggests.
Id. Instead, the ALJ considered the opinion of Dr.
Kendrick, but gave it diminished weight because of reasonably
perceived inconsistencies between his opinion and treatment
notes. (Doc. 9 at 22). While it may be reasonable to draw two
separate conclusions from the evidence presented to the ALJ,
it is clear that the ALJ acted reasonably in affording less
weight to Dr. Kendrick, and as a result, this Court must
affirm the ALJ's findings. Haley, 258 F.3d at
747 (noting that "as long as there is substantial
evidence to support the Commissioner's decision, we will
not reverse it simply because substantial evidence exists in
the record that would have supported a different
IS THEREFORE ORDERED that all of Allen's
objections to the R&R are OVERRULED. The
R&R (Doc. 13) is ADOPTED IN ITS
ENTIRETY, and the findings of the ALJ are affirmed.