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Click v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division

December 21, 2018

NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security DEFENDANT




         This recommended disposition has been submitted to United States District Judge Kristine G. Baker. 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.


         Plaintiff, Corey Click, has appealed the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration to deny his claim for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income. 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. 1993).

         The 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.

         Plaintiff is young - only forty-one years old. (Tr. 41.) He testified that he went as far as the tenth grade in school. (Id.) Mr. Click has past relevant work as an animal attendant, a press jogger, and barber. (Tr. 26.)

         The Administrative Law Judge[1] (ALJ) found Mr. Click has a combination of “severe” impairments. (Tr. 17.) The ALJ further found Mr. Click 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.[2] (Tr. 18-19.)

         The ALJ determined Mr. Click had the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform a reduced range of sedentary work. (Tr. 19-20.) Given this RFC, Mr. Click is no longer able to perform his past relevant work. (Tr. 26.) Therefore, the ALJ employed the services of a vocational expert to determine whether jobs existed that Mr. Click could perform despite his impairments. (Tr. 58-61.) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff was capable of performing the jobs of machine tender and inspector. (Tr. 27.) Accordingly, the ALJ determined Mr. Click was not disabled. (Tr. 27-28.)

         In support of his Complaint, Mr. Click argues the ALJ “failed to give proper weight to the opinion of Plaintiff's treating provider, Dr. Lewis, instead of relying on the outdated opinions of the State Agency Medical Consultants.” (Doc. No. 12 at 16.) Plaintiff is correct that his treating doctor should generally be given deference, but after a close review of the records, I find the ALJ properly assessed the opinion of Derek Lewis, M.D.

         Dr. Lewis provided a Medical Source Statement indicating Plaintiff was extremely limited due to his degenerative disc disease. (Tr. 750-751.) As Plaintiff states, if the ALJ gave significant weight to this evidence, Mr. Click would be considered disabled. (Doc. No. 12 at 17.) The ALJ gave the Medical Source Statement little weight stating:

Obviously, the medical statement is internally inconsistent. It assumes a progressive disease will worsen and cause additional limitations. The opinion states that the claimant would be off tasks and have interference to maintain focus and concentration. However, the treatment notes consistently show no side effects of medication and there is no evidence of lack of concentration or focus. . . Treatment notes from Derek Lewis between February ...

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