United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Northern Division
T. KEARNEY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
following Recommended Disposition (âRecommendationâ) has been
sent to United States District Judge James Moody. You may
file written objections to all or part of this
Recommendation. If you do so, those objections must: (1)
specifically explain the factual and/or legal basis for your
objection; and (2) be received by the Clerk of this Court
within fourteen (14) days of this Recommendation. By not
objecting, you may waive the right to appeal questions of
FOR RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION
Moore applied for social security disability benefits with an
amended alleged onset date of April 12, 2016. (R. at 32).
After a hearing, the administrative law judge (ALJ) denied
her application. (R. at 19). The Appeals Council denied
Moore's request for review. (R. at 1). The ALJ's
decision now stands as the Commissioner's final decision,
and Moore has requested judicial review.
reasons stated below, the magistrate judge recommends
affirming the Commissioner's decision.
The Commissioner's Decision
found that Moore had the severe impairments of affective
disorder and anxiety disorder. (R. at 12). In determining
Moore's residual functional capacity (RFC), the ALJ found
that Moore could perform work at all exertional levels but
would be limited to simple, routine, and repetitive tasks;
simple, work-related decisions; interpersonal contact that is
incidental to the work performed; and supervision that is
simple, direct, and concrete. (R. at 14). Moore had no past
relevant work. (R. at 18). The ALJ took testimony from a
vocational expert (VE) and determined that Moore could
perform jobs such as hand packer, housekeeper, or addresser.
(R. at 19). The ALJ therefore held that Moore was not
disabled. (R. at 19).
argues that the ALJ erred in weighing the opinion of her
treating psychiatrist. For the reasons stated below,
Moore's argument must fail.
Court is to affirm the ALJ's decision if it is supported
by “substantial evidence in the record as a whole,
” which is more than a scintilla but less than a
preponderance. Slusser v. Astrue, 557 F.3d 923, 925
(8th Cir. 2009). Even if it is possible to draw two
inconsistent positions from the evidence, the Court must
affirm if one of those positions represents the ALJ's
findings. Milam v. Colvin, 794 F.3d 978, 983 (8th
Cir. 2015). The Court considers evidence supporting and
evidence detracting from the Commissioner's decision, but
it will not reverse simply because substantial evidence could
support a different outcome. Prosch v. Apfel, 201
F.3d 1010, 1012 (8th Cir. 2000).
weight the ALJ gives to a treating physician's opinion,
the ALJ must give good reason for giving the opinion that
weight. Hamilton v. Astrue, 518 F.3d 607, 610 (8th
Cir. 2008). Thomas Zurkowski, M.D. opined that Moore had no
usable ability to remember locations and work procedures;
understand, remember, and carry out short, simple
instructions; maintain attention and concentration for eight
hours; sustain an ordinary routine without daily supervision;
work with or near others without being distracted; to be on
time and complete a normal workday or workweek without
excessive absences due to psychologically based symptoms;
interact appropriately with the public; accept instructions
and criticism from supervisors; get along with coworkers and
peers, and maintain socially appropriate behavior. (R. at
405). Dr. Zurkowski found that Moore would have unreliable
performance in dealing with typical work stress. (R. at 405).
Dr. Zurkowski also indicated that Moore would miss more than
three days of work per month, could not reliably pay her
bills, and was at risk of impulsive acts with dire financial
consequences. (R. at 405).
opinion contrasts sharply with the opinion of consultative
examiner Vickie Caspall, Ph.D., who opined that Moore was
capable of adequate, socially appropriate communication and
interaction; had the capacity to communicate in an
intelligible and effective manner; had adequate verbal
comprehension; below average mental flexibility; showed the
ability to concentrate and showed adequate working memory;
showed no signs of difficulty with persistence; and did not
display remarkable psychomotor or cognitive slowing. (R. at
detracting from the credibility of Dr. Zurkowski's
opinion, treatment records do not indicate the extreme
limitations of the opinion. On April 13, 2017, she reported
increased mood stability and that treatment was helping. (R.
at 386). While there are records of more severe symptoms,
those records pre-date the alleged onset date. (R. at 260,
285). More recent records indicate that she has responded
well to medications and has had a decrease in symptoms. (R.
at 397). These inconsistencies between the medical opinions
and the medical ...