United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDED
VOLPE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
recommended disposition has been submitted to United States
District Judge D.P. Marshall Jr. The parties may file
specific objections to these findings and recommendations and
must provide the factual or legal basis for each objection.
The objections must be filed with the Clerk no later than
fourteen (14) days from the date of the findings and
recommendations. A copy must be served on the opposing party.
The district judge, even in the absence of objections, may
reject these proposed findings and recommendations in whole
or in part.
Cherron Jackson, has appealed the final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration to deny
her claim for supplemental security income and disability
insurance benefits. Both parties have submitted appeal briefs
and the case is now ready for a decision. A 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 free of legal error.
Slusser v. Astrue, 557 F.3d 923, 925 (8th Cir.
2009); Long v. Chater, 108 F.3d 185, 187 (8th Cir.
1997); see also 42 U.S.C. §§
405(g), 1383(c)(3). Substantial evidence is such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion. Richardson v. Perales, 402
U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Reynolds v. Chater, 82 F.3d
254, 257 (8th Cir. 1996). In assessing the substantiality of
the evidence, courts must consider evidence that detracts
from the Commissioner's decision as well as evidence that
supports it; a court may not, however, reverse the
Commissioner's decision merely because substantial
evidence would have supported an opposite decision.
Sultan v. Barnhart, 368 F.3d 857, 863 (8th Cir.
2004); Woolf v. Shalala, 3 F.3d 1210, 1213 (8th Cir.
history of the administrative proceedings and the statement
of facts relevant to this decision are contained in the
respective briefs and are not in serious dispute. Therefore,
they will not be repeated in this opinion except as
necessary. After careful consideration of the record as a
whole, I find the decision of the Commissioner is supported
by substantial evidence.
was forty-three years old at the time of the administrative
hearing. (Tr. 73.) With regard to her past education, Ms.
Jackson testified she went as far as “A year in
college.” (Id.) Ms. Jackson has past relevant
work as a customer service representative and salvager. (Tr.
25.) The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found Ms. Jackson has
a combination of “severe” impairments, (Tr. 16),
but did not have an impairment or combination of impairments
meeting or equaling an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. §
404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 16-18.)
determined Ms. Jackson had the residual functional capacity
(RFC) to perform a reduced range of light work. (Tr. 18.)
Given this RFC, Ms. Jackson is no longer able to perform her
past relevant work. (Tr. 25.) Therefore, the ALJ employed the
services of a vocational expert to determine whether jobs
existed that Ms. Jackson could perform despite her
impairments. (Tr. 88-96.) Based in part on the vocational
expert testimony, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was
capable of performing the jobs of housekeeper/cleaner, small
parts assembler, and laundry sorter. (Tr. 27.) Accordingly,
the ALJ determined Ms. Jackson was not disabled.
support of her Complaint, Ms. Jackson argues that the ALJ
failed to properly address the opinions of her treatment
providers, Mark Andersen, M.D., and Emily K. Whitley, LCSW.
(Doc. No. 12 at 7-11.) Plaintiff says, “The
Administrative Law Judge noted that the opinions were
entitled to ‘some weight' but found that the
claimant was not as limited in her functional ability as Dr.
Andersen and Ms. Whitley reported. There is no basis in the
record for disregarding these opinions to any extent.”
(Id. at 7.) Plaintiff further argues that “no
reason for disregarding Dr. Andersen's opinion is given
at all.” (Id. at 8.)
United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has
Generally, a treating physician's opinion is given more
weight than other sources in a disability proceeding. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1527(c)(2). Indeed, when the treating
physician's opinion is supported by proper medical
testing, and is not inconsistent with other substantial
evidence in the record, the ALJ must give the opinion
controlling weight. Id. “However, [a]n ALJ may
discount or even disregard the opinion of a treating
physician where other medical assessments are supported by
better or more thorough medical evidence, or where a treating
physician renders inconsistent opinions that undermine the
credibility of such opinions.” Wildman v.
Astrue, 596 F.3d 959, 964 (8th Cir. 2010) (alteration in
original) (internal quotation omitted). Ultimately, the ALJ
must “give good reasons” to explain the weight
given the treating physician's opinion. 20 C.F.R. §
Anderson v. Astrue, 696 F.3d 790, 793 (8th Cir.
makes a fair point. However, a close review of the ALJ's
assessment reveals she gave proper consideration to
Plaintiff's treatment provider's opinions. The ALJ
As for the opinion evidence, the undersigned has considered
the opinions of Emily Whitley, LCSW and Dr. Mark Anderson
[sic] of Behavioral Health, as provided in the Work
Capacities Forms provided on behalf of the claimant. Because
these two forms appear to have been completed almost exactly
the same, as if completed by the same person, they are
considered as one opinion and are entitled to some weight.
The undersigned has determined that the ...