Clark v. Social Security Administration, Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala on 5/31/2016. (AVC)
2016 May-31 PM 04:30
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
ANNETTE GARY CLARK,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN,
Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration,
Case No.: 2:14-CV-02086-MHH
Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), plaintiff Annette Clark seeks judicial review
of a final adverse decision of the Commissioner of Social Security. The
Commissioner denied her claim for a period of disability and disability insurance
benefits. After careful review, the Court affirms the Commissioner’s decision.
Ms. Clark applied for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits
on July 30, 2012. (Doc. 8-6, pp. 2-8). Ms. Clark alleges that her disability began
on July 25, 2012. (Doc. 8-6, p. 2). The Commissioner denied Ms. Clark’s
application for benefits. (Doc. 8-5, pp. 3-5). Ms. Clark requested a hearing before
an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). (Doc. 8-5, pp. 12-3). The ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision on November 7, 2013. (Doc. 8-3, pp. 25-7). On August 29,
2014, the Appeals Council declined Ms. Clark’s request for review (Doc. 8-3, pp.
4-6), making the Commissioner’s decision final and a proper candidate for this
Court’s judicial review. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).1
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The scope of review in this matter is limited. “When, as in this case, the
ALJ denies benefits and the Appeals Council denies review,” the Court “review[s]
the ALJ’s ‘factual findings with deference’ and [his] ‘legal conclusions with close
scrutiny.’” Riggs v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 522 Fed. Appx. 509, 510-11 (11th Cir.
2013) (quoting Doughty v. Apfel, 245 F.3d 1274, 1278 (11th Cir. 2001)).
The Court must determine whether there is substantial evidence in the record
to support the ALJ’s findings. “Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla and is
such relevant evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to support
a conclusion.” Crawford v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158 (11th Cir.
2004). In making this evaluation, the Court may not “decide the facts anew,
reweigh the evidence” or substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ. Winschel v.
Ms. Clark is proceeding pro se in this Court, but she was represented by counsel during the
hearing before the ALJ. (Doc. 8-3, pp. 41, 43). Consistent with the pleading standards that
apply to pro se litigants, the Court has construed Ms. Clark’s arguments liberally and has
reviewed the record thoroughly. See Gluchowski v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 2014 WL 2916750, at
*5 n.4 (M.D. Fla. June 26, 2014) (“[A]lthough Plaintiff was represented by counsel at the
hearing, Plaintiff is proceeding pro se. The Court must construe pro se pleadings liberally.”)
(internal citation omitted).
Comm’r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 631 F.3d 1176, 1178 (11th Cir. 2011) (internal
quotations and citation omitted). If the ALJ’s decision is supported by substantial
evidence, the Court “must affirm even if the evidence preponderates against the
Commissioner’s findings.” Costigan v. Comm’r, Soc. Sec. Admin., 603 Fed. Appx.
783, 786 (11th Cir. 2015) (citing Crawford, 363 F.3d at 1158).
With respect to the ALJ’s legal conclusions, the Court must determine
whether the ALJ applied the correct legal standards. If the Court finds an error in
the ALJ’s application of the law, or if the Court finds that the ALJ failed to provide
sufficient reasoning to demonstrate that the ALJ conducted a proper legal analysis,
then the Court must reverse the ALJ’s decision. Cornelius v. Sullivan, 936 F.2d
1143, 1145-46 (11th Cir. 1991).
SUMMARY OF THE ALJ’S DECISION
To determine whether a claimant has proven that she is disabled, an ALJ
follows a five-step sequential evaluation process. The ALJ considers:
(1) whether the claimant is currently engaged in substantial gainful
activity; (2) whether the claimant has a severe impairment or
combination of impairments; (3) whether the impairment meets or
equals the severity of the specified impairments in the Listing of
Impairments; (4) based on a residual functional capacity (“RFC”)
assessment, whether the claimant can perform any of his or her past
relevant work despite the impairment; and (5) whether there are
significant numbers of jobs in the national economy that the claimant
can perform given the claimant’s RFC, age, education, and work
Winschel, 631 F.3d at 1178.
In this case, the ALJ found that Ms. Clark has not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since July 25, 2012, the alleged onset date. (Doc. 8-3, p. 30). The
ALJ determined that Ms. Clark suffers from the following severe impairments:
osteoarthritis, diabetes, and obesity. (Doc. 8-3, p. 30).2 The ALJ found that Ms.
Clark’s remote history of carpal tunnel syndrome, hidradenitis suppurativa, remote
hospital visit for a motor vehicle accident, plantar fasciitis, allergic rhinitis, and
hypertension are non-severe impairments. (Doc. 8-3, p. 30). Based on a review of
the medical evidence, the ALJ concluded that Ms. Clark does not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the
severity of any of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1. (Doc. 8-3, p. 31).
Based on her impairments, the ALJ determined that Ms. Clark has the RFC
medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) except that she could
never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds, only occasionally climb ramps
or stairs, and frequently stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl, or engage in
activities requiring balance. She should avoid concentrated exposure
to extreme temperatures, irritants such as fumes, odors, dust, gases, or
poorly ventilated areas, and avoid concentrated exposure to the
operational control of moving machinery and unprotected heights.
(Doc. 8-3, p. 31). Based on this RFC, the ALJ concluded that Ms. Clark is unable
to perform her past relevant work as a maintenance worker. (Doc. 8-3, pp. 34-5).
Ms. Clark has type 2 diabetes. (Doc. 8-8, p. 89).
Relying on testimony from a vocational expert, the ALJ found that jobs exist in the
national economy that Ms. Clark can perform, including patient transporter, food
preparation worker, and counter clerk. (Doc. 8-3, p. 35). Accordingly, the ALJ
determined that Ms. Clark has not been under a disability within the meaning of
the Social Security Act. (Doc. 8-3, p. 36).
Ms. Clark argues that she is entitled to relief from the ALJ’s decision
because (1) the ALJ did not give adequate weight to the opinion of her treating
physician, Dr. Frederick Ransom; (2) the ALJ did not pay attention to the hearing
as a whole; and (3) the ALJ did not refer Ms. Clark to an agency physician to
further investigate her allegations of disability. (Doc. 10). The Court examines
each issue in turn.
Substantial Evidence Supports the ALJ’s Decision to Give Dr.
Ransom’s Opinion Little Weight.
An ALJ must give considerable weight to a treating physician’s medical
opinion if the opinion is supported by the evidence and consistent with the doctor’s
own records. See Winschel, 631 F.3d at 1179. An ALJ may refuse to give the
opinion of a treating physician “substantial or considerable weight . . . [if] ‘good
cause’ is shown to the contrary.” Phillips v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232, 1240-41
(11th Cir. 2004). Good cause exists when “(1) [the] treating physician’s opinion
was not bolstered by the evidence; (2) [the] evidence supported a contrary finding;
or (3) [the] treating physician’s opinion was conclusory or inconsistent with the
doctor’s own medical records.” Id. at 1240-41; see also Crawford, 363 F.3d at
1159. The ALJ “must state with particularity the weight given to different medical
opinions and the reasons therefor.” Gaskin v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 533 Fed. Appx.
929, 931 (11th Cir. 2013) (internal quotation and citation omitted).
In this case, the ALJ gave Dr. Ransom’s assessment of Ms. Clark little
weight because he found that the conclusions that Dr. Ransom reported in a
physical capacities evaluation form were inconsistent with Ms. Clark’s medical
records. (Doc. 8-3, p. 34). The ALJ found that Dr. Ransom’s opinions were not
accompanied by evidence of thorough functional testing or treatment notes. (Doc.
8-3, p. 34). The ALJ had good cause to give little weight to Dr. Ransom’s opinion
because the opinions that Dr. Ransom provided for purposes of Ms. Clark’s
disability evaluation were inconsistent with the advice that he gave Ms. Clark over
the many years that he treated her.
In January 2013, for purposes of Ms. Clark’s disability evaluation, Dr.
Ransom completed a physical capacities evaluation form for Ms. Clark. (Doc. 8-9,
p. 37). Dr. Ransom opined that Ms. Clark can lift 20 pounds occasionally and ten
pounds frequently. He opined that Ms. Clark can sit for six hours in an 8-hour
work day and stand or walk for three hours in an 8-hour work day. (Doc. 8-9, p.
37). According to Dr. Ransom, Ms. Clark can rarely climb ladders or stairs,
balance, bend and/or stoop, operate a motor vehicle, and work around hazardous
machinery. Dr. Ransom explained that Ms. Clark occasionally can push or pull
and reach, including overhead. Dr. Ransom opined that Ms. Clark frequently can
engage in gross and fine manipulation. (Doc. 8-9, p. 37). According to Dr.
Ransom, Ms. Clark can work for only four hours in an 8-hour work day, and she
likely would miss four days of work per month. (Doc. 8-9, pp. 37-8). Dr. Ransom
attributed these limitations to Ms. Clark’s degenerative arthritis in her back and in
her knees. (Doc. 8-9, p. 37).
Dr. Ransom also completed a clinical assessment of pain form in
conjunction with Ms. Clark’s application for disability benefits.
opined that Ms. Clark’s pain is present to such an extent that it distracts her from
adequate performance of daily activities or work. (Doc. 8-9, p. 36). Dr. Ransom
concluded that physical activity such as walking, standing, sitting, bending,
stooping, or moving extremities would greatly increase Ms. Clark’s pain to such a
degree as to cause distraction from tasks or total abandonment of tasks. (Doc. 8-9,
The information in the physical capacities evaluation form and in the clinical
assessment of pain form is at odds with Ms. Clark’s medical records. Dr. Ransom
treated Ms. Clark for a number of years before he completed those forms. (Doc.
10). The medical records from Dr. Ransom date to 1999. (Doc. 8-8, pp. 34-110).
Ms. Clark visited Dr. Ransom in March 2000 for an evaluation of chest pain.
A cardiac catheterization revealed no significant coronary obstruction, and an
echocardiogram was normal.
Dr. Ransom encouraged Ms. Clark “to be as
physically active as she can be.” (Doc. 8-8, pp. 80-81). Dr. Ransom wrote that
Ms. Clark “has a reasonably physical job and thinks that job related activity may
have aggravated her chest discomfort.” (Doc. 8-8, p. 81). Dr. Ransom released
Ms. Clark to return to “full duty” at her job after she recovered from her heart
In April 2000, Ms. Clark continued to complain of chest pain, but she was
walking and riding a bike “with only minimal symptoms.” (Doc. 8-8, p. 80). By
June 2000, Ms. Clark was feeling better. Dr. Ransom wondered if her chest pain
might be esophageal spasm rather than cardiac pain. (Doc. 8-8, p. 79). Ms. Clark
reported that she had stopped smoking; however, by December 2001, Ms. Clark’s
records indicate that she had resumed smoking. (Id. at 76, 79).
Ms. Clark continued to see Dr. Ransom on a regular basis. She resisted
advice about exercise though examinations revealed no physical impediment to an
exercise routine. (Doc. 8-8, pp. 71-75; 92-98).
Ms. Clark saw Dr. Ransom for treatment in August 2008.
complained again of chest pain. Dr. Ransom explained that the pain “is not
consistently exertional, left anterior chest pain and unassociated with any
significant problems.” Dr. Ransom noted that Ms. Clark was under a lot of stress
because of a threatened foreclosure on her house, and she admitted that she had
stopped exercising because of the stress. Ms. Clark’s lab results revealed a normal
Ms. Clark had “a clear chest, regular cardiac rhythm without
murmurs, rubs or gallops.” Ms. Clark also had a “full range of motion in the hips,
knees, and ankles with a little bit of crepitance to knee exam passive movement.”
Dr. Ransom noted that Ms. Clark has chronic low back pain and degenerative
arthritis for which she took glucosamine/chondroitin “infrequently”; Dr. Ransom
instructed Ms. Clark to increase her physical activity. (Doc. 8-8, pp. 89-90).3
Ms. Clark returned to visit Dr. Ransom in March 2009. Ms. Clark was
stable; her symptoms were largely unremarkable. Dr. Ransom reported that Ms.
Clark was still under a lot of stress, was walking “on a very limited basis,” and had
Dr. Ransom strongly encouraged Ms. Clark to “develop a
consistent program of aerobic exercise and to restrict calories.” (Doc. 8-8, pp. 8788). A record from September 2009 indicates that Ms. Clark’s exercise program
was working well. Dr. Ransom encouraged her to maintain the program and to
take her diabetes medication. (Doc. 8-8, p. 86).
Ms. Clark saw Dr. Ransom again in March 2010. Dr. Ransom recounted
Ms. Clark’s previous episodes of chest pain and noted that her electrocardiogram
A medical record from February 2008 states that Ms. Clark was “exercising consistently” at the
time. (Doc. 8-8, p. 91).
demonstrated no acute change. Ms. Clark had generally acceptable blood sugars.
Dr. Ransom noted that Ms. Clark suffered bilateral knee pain and low back pain
consistent with her degenerative arthritis. Ms. Clark demonstrated “mild lower
lumbar spinous process percussion tenderness” and “bilateral knee crepitus with
passive movement.” Ms. Clark’s high blood pressure was well-controlled, and she
reported no other symptoms. Ms. Clark had not been following her exercise
program and had gained weight. (Doc. 8-8, p. 85).
In June 2010, Dr. Ransom noted that Ms. Clark had started an exercise
program, and she was “subjectively stable.” Ms. Clark reported that her blood
sugar levels were acceptable, and a recent “cardiac cath […] demonstrated no
obstruction.” Dr. Ransom observed that Ms. Clark had “generally stable cardiac
function with no prolonged episodes of chest pain and no palpitations.” Dr.
Ransom noted that Ms. Clark’s bilateral knee pain “seems to be responding to her
increasing her exercise program” and that Ms. Clark was “otherwise doing
reasonably well.” (Doc. 8-8, p. 102).
Ms. Clark saw Dr. Ransom again in March 2012. During that visit, Ms.
Clark reported that she was experiencing side effects from her cholesterol
medication. Dr. Ransom observed that Ms. Clark still had allergic rhinitis that was
“moderately symptomatic” due to her work outdoors. Dr. Ransom changed Ms.
Clark’s cholesterol medication and noted that the new prescription “may be of
some value in controlling [Ms. Clark’s] diabetes.” Dr. Ransom advised Ms. Clark
to return in four months. (Doc. 8-8, p. 107).
On July 3, 2012, Ms. Clark saw Dr. Ransom for a follow-up visit after Ms.
Clark experienced a syncopal episode while working in a hot environment. (Doc.
8-8, pp. 108-9). In the report, Dr. Ransom noted Ms. Clark’s history of “chronic
allergic rhinitis, type 2 diabetes mellitus, degenerative arthritis, hypertension,
hidradenitis suppurativa and rotator cuff tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.” (Doc. 88, p. 108). On examination, Ms. Clark displayed a “clear chest, regular cardiac
rhythm […], full range of motion in the hips, knees, and ankles, no calf or thigh
tenderness.” (Doc. 8-8, p. 108). Dr. Ransom described Ms. Clark’s syncopal
episode as “a mild degree of heat stroke.” (Doc. 8-8, p. 108). Dr. Ransom
observed that Ms. Clark’s other problems were stable and recommended that she
work in a climate controlled environment for the next month. (Doc. 8-8, pp. 1089). Dr. Ransom also encouraged Ms. Clark to exercise and diet. (Doc. 8-8, p.
None of these medical records is consistent with the information that Dr.
Ransom provided in 2013 when he completed that physical capacities evaluation
form for Ms. Clark. (Doc. 8-9, p. 37). Dr. Ransom’s finding that Ms. Clark can
work only four hours in an 8-hour work day contradicts records in which he
encouraged Ms. Clark to exercise and to return to work after she experienced mild
heat stroke. Longitudinally, Dr. Ransom’s records reflect that Ms. Clark was
reluctant to exercise despite Dr. Ransom’s consistent urging.
evaluation is also contradicted by Ms. Clark’s activities of daily living. See Wind
v. Barnhart, 133 Fed. Appx. 684, 692 (11th Cir. 2005) (ALJ may consider a
claimant’s daily activities when making a RFC determination). On August 14,
2012, Ms. Clark noted that, despite her limitations, she lived alone and was capable
of exercising on the treadmill and tending to chores around the house, although she
had trouble lifting, bending, reaching, walking, and climbing stairs. (Doc. 8-7, pp.
12, 16, 18-9). Ms. Clark had also stated that her condition did not cause her to
make changes in her work activity. (Doc. 8-7, p. 6). The ALJ noted that Ms. Clark
stopped working not because of her alleged disability but because she was laid off.
(Doc. 8-7, p. 6).
Because Dr. Ransom’s opinion is inconsistent with both the medical
evidence in the record and Ms. Clark’s activities of daily living, the Court finds
good cause to give the treating physician’s opinion less weight. Consequently, the
ALJ’s decision is supported by substantial evidence. Crawford, 363 F.3d at 115961 (finding that substantial evidence supported the ALJ’s decision to discredit the
opinions of the claimant’s treating physicians where those physicians’ opinions
regarding the claimant’s disability were inconsistent with the physicians’ treatment
notes and unsupported by the medical evidence); see also Reynolds-Buckley v.
Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 457 Fed. Appx. 862 (11th Cir. 2012) (substantial evidence
supported the ALJ’s decision to give less weight to a treating physician’s opinion
when the doctor’s opinion was “inconsistent with the medical evidence on record
and was not supported by any treatment notes or by an analysis of any test
The ALJ Afforded a Fair Hearing and Developed a Full and Fair
Ms. Clark questions generally the ALJ’s attentiveness to the administrative
hearing. Ms. Clark questions specifically why certain information either is not
contained in the administrative record or was not considered by the ALJ. Neither
argument is a basis for remand.
The record demonstrates that the ALJ afforded Ms. Clark a fair hearing. Ms.
Clark’s attorney gave an opening statement that summarized Ms. Clark’s
allegations of disability. (Doc. 8-3, pp. 43-4). The ALJ questioned her extensively
about her impairments and why she believes she cannot work. (Doc. 8-3, pp. 4451). The ALJ then asked Ms. Clark a series of questions about her work history
and her efforts to obtain employment. (Doc. 8-3, pp. 51-3). The ALJ posed a
series of hypothetical questions to a vocational expert. (Doc. 8-3, pp. 53-7). The
administrative hearing transcript demonstrates that the ALJ “gave [Ms. Clark]
every opportunity to present all [her] evidence . . . and the final decision of the ALJ
does not reveal any bias.” Otto v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 171 Fed. Appx. 782, 785
(11th Cir. 2006).
The record also demonstrates that the ALJ met his “basic obligation to
develop a full and fair record.” Larry v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 506 Fed. Appx. 967,
969 (11th Cir. 2013).
Ms. Clark complains that treatment records from her
chiropractor are absent from the administrative record. (Doc. 10). When Ms.
Clark completed forms in July 2012 and October 2012, the only medical provider
she listed was Dr. Ransom. (Doc. 8-7, pp. 9, 26). In July 2013, the agency wrote a
letter to Ms. Clark’s attorney and asked her attorney to provide “[a]ll medical
records . . . from one year prior to the alleged onset date to the present and any
other relevant medical, school or other records not already in file.” (Doc. 8-7, pp.
32-3). In response, Ms. Clark submitted information regarding her medications,
but neither Ms. Clark nor her attorney provided additional treatment records from
her chiropractor or other providers. (Doc. 8-7, p. 44). “The claimant bears the
burden of proving that [s]he is disabled, and, consequently, [s]he is responsible for
producing evidence in support of h[er] claim.” Ellison v. Barnhart, 355 F. 3d 1272
(11th Cir. 2003); see also McCloud v. Barnhart, 166 Fed. Appx. 410, 418 (11th
Cir. 2006) (“To the extent McCloud contends that the ALJ should have obtained
records for treatment of which there is no evidence in the record, McCloud was in
the best position to inform the ALJ as to her treatment history, and by failing to do
so, she failed to meet her burden.”).4
Ms. Clark also maintains that she currently is receiving treatment at Cooper
Green and that these “recent records” are relevant to her allegations of disability.
Ms. Clark did not attach the records to her complaint or brief.
Therefore, the Court cannot determine whether the records are relevant.
Additionally, Ms. Clark’s description of the “recent records” suggests that they
post-date the ALJ’s decision, in which case the records are not chronologically
relevant to the period of disability that the ALJ considered. (Doc. 11, p. 14); see
20 C.F.R. § 404.970(b) (information is chronologically relevant if “it relates to the
period on or before the date of the [ALJ] hearing decision”); Costigan, 603 Fed.
Appx. at 787 (“The information post-dated the hearing by four to eight months,
and thus does not bear directly on Costigan’s subjective complaint of pain at the
time of the hearing.”).
The Court also notes that pursuant to § 404.1513(a), Ms. Clark’s chiropractor does not meet the
definition of an “acceptable medical source.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1513(a). “Acceptable medical
sources” are defined as licensed physicians (medical or osteopathic doctors), licensed or certified
psychologists, and in certain situations licensed optometrists, licensed podiatrists, and qualified
speech-language pathologists. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1513(a). Chiropractors do not fall under the
category of “other sources” in § 404.1513(d)(1). Because Ms. Clark’s chiropractor is not
considered an “acceptable medical source,” his “opinion cannot establish the existence of an
impairment.” Crawford, 363 F.3d at 1160. Therefore, information contained in treatment notes
from Ms. Clark’s chiropractor would be of little probative value.
Finally, Ms. Clark complains that a hardship letter and a Congressional
inquiry concerning the delay in her case were not included in the administrative
record. Ms. Clark contends that the ALJ did not consider her work ethic when
making his decision. The Court is not unsympathetic to Ms. Clark’s situation, and
the Court has no reason to doubt Ms. Clark’s work ethic; however, the information
is not relevant to a determination of whether Ms. Clark is unable “to engage in any
substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or
can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than twelve months . . .”
42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A).
The ALJ Did Not Err by Failing to Order a Consultative
Ms. Clark argues that the ALJ should have ordered a consultative
examination to further investigate her allegations of disability.
Circuit Court of Appeals recently reiterated that in making an RFC assessment, an
ALJ “‘has a duty to develop the record where appropriate but is not required to
order a consultative examination as long as the record contains sufficient evidence
for the [ALJ] to make an informed decision.’” Castle v. Colvin, 557 Fed. Appx.
849, 853 (11th Cir. 2014) (quoting Ingram v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 496
F.3d 1253, 1269 (11th Cir. 2007)); see also Sellers v. Barnhart, 246 F. Supp. 2d
1201, 1210 (M.D. Ala. 2002) (An ALJ “is not required to order a consultative
examination unless the record, medical and non-medical, establishes that such an
examination is necessary to enable the ALJ to render a decision.”) (emphasis in
Sellers). In this case, the record contained sufficient evidence for the ALJ to make
an informed decision about Ms. Clark’s RFC. The administrative record contains
the forms that Dr. Ransom completed for purposes of Ms. Clark’s benefits
application and medical records from Dr. Ransom that span more than a decade.
(Doc. 8-8, pp. 2-4, 71-102, 107-9; Doc. 8-9, pp. 3-12, 18, 22, 28-9, 31-2, 36-8, 401). The administrative record also contains treatment notes from a number of visits
to UAB University Hospital. (Doc. 8-8, pp. 5-10, 23-30, 32-37). The record
contains results from lab tests that did not identify significant problems. (Doc. 8-8,
pp. 38-70). Ms. Clark indicated that she stopped working because she was laid off,
not because of her physical impairments. (Doc. 8-7, p. 6). In fact, Ms. Clark
worked for years after Dr. Ransom diagnosed her impairments. (Doc. 8-3, p. 33;
Doc. 8-7, p. 7). The record also contains testimony from Ms. Clark about her
impairments. (Doc. 8-3, pp. 45-51). Lastly, Ms. Clark stated that she cooks for
one or two hours at a time two or three times a week, shops, reads, walks on a
treadmill three days per week, visits the sick, and attends church frequently. (Doc.
8-7, pp. 16-7).
The ALJ determined that the residual functional capacity was supported by
“the weight of credible evidence, including treatment records, evidence of the
claimant’s activities, opinion evidence, and objective medical evidence.” (Doc. 83, p. 34). Therefore, the ALJ was not required to order a consultative examination.
See e.g., Castle, 557 Fed. Appx. at 853; 20 C.F.R. § 404.1519a(a)(2) (“When we
purchase a consultative examination, we will use the report from the consultative
examination to try to resolve a conflict or ambiguity if one exists. We will also use
a consultative examination to secure needed medical evidence that the file does not
contain such as clinical findings, laboratory tests, a diagnosis or prognosis
necessary for decision.”).
For the reasons discussed above, the Court finds that the ALJ’s decision is
supported by substantial evidence, and the ALJ applied proper legal standards.
The Court will not reweigh the evidence or substitute its judgment for that of the
Commissioner. Accordingly, the Court affirms the Commissioner. The Court will
enter a separate final judgment consistent with this memorandum opinion.
DONE and ORDERED this May 31, 2016.
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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