Dial v. Social Security Administration
ORDER adopting the 18 Recommended Disposition in its entirety as this Court's findings in all respects. The Court affirms the Commissioner's decision, denies Mr. Dial's request for relief, and dismisses with prejudice Mr. Dial's 2 Complaint. Judgment will be entered by separate Order. Signed by Judge Kristine G. Baker on 6/30/2017. (jak)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
CHARLES EDWARD DIAL, JR.
Case No. 3:16-cv-00239 KGB/PSH
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,
Social Security Administration
The Court has received the Recommended Disposition filed by United States Magistrate
Judge Patricia S. Harris (Dkt. No. 18). After careful review of the Recommended Disposition and
the timely objections received thereto (Dkt. No. 19), and having conducted a de novo review of
the record, the Court concludes that the Recommended Disposition should be, and hereby is,
approved and adopted in its entirety as this Court’s findings in all respects (Dkt. No. 17). As part
of its de novo review, the Court will address Mr. Dial’s objections below (Dkt. No. 19).
In considering Mr. Dial’s objections, the Court notes that its “standard of review is
narrow.” Pearsall v. Massanari, 274 F.3d 1211, 1217 (8th Cir. 2001). The Court must determine
whether the Commissioner’s decision is supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole
and whether it is based on legal error. Miller v. Colvin, 784 F.3d 472, 477 (8th Cir. 2015); see also
Sultan v. Barnhart, 368 F.3d 857, 862-63 (8th Cir. 2004); see also 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
“Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance, but is enough that a reasonable mind would
find it adequate to support the Commissioner’s conclusion.” Sultan, 368 F.3d at 857. To determine
whether the evidence is substantial, this Court must “consider evidence that detracts from the
Commissioner’s decision as well as evidence that supports it.” Id. “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 Commissioner’s findings, the court must affirm the Commissioner’s
decision.” Pearsall, 274 F.3d at 1217.
This Court understands Mr. Dial to argue that the Recommended Disposition fails to weigh
the evidence properly (Dkt. Nos. 19). Mr. Dial contends that the Recommended Disposition
“disregards the germane findings of [Mr. Dial]’s treating physician and psychological examination
on the basis of the sedentary non-activity of sitting in a class” (Dkt. No. 19, at 2). However, the
question before the Court is not whether the Commissioner appropriately weighed the evidence;
rather, the question is whether there is substantial evidence in the record to support the
Commissioner’s decision. Sultan, 368 F.3d at 862-63.
The Court notes that the Commissioner considered objective medical evidence from
multiple physicians, including Mr. Dial’s treating physician, examining physician, and agency
physicians’ opinions. Mr. Dial’s medical records indicate a history of conservative treatment,
which contradicts allegations of disabling pain. See Smith v. Shalala, 987 F.2d 1371, 1374 (8th
Cir. 1993). While Mr. Dial’s treating physician stated that Mr. Dial could not work due to pain, a
medical opinion that an applicant is unable to work involves an issue reserved for the
Commissioner, and is therefore not afforded controlling weight. See Ellis v. Barnhart, 392 F.3d
988, 944-95 (8th Cir. 2005). Moreover, there are multiple countervailing medical opinions present
in the record that tend to support a finding that Mr. Dial was not disabled.
In the light of the narrow standard of review, the Court concludes that the Commissioner’s
decision was supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole. Accordingly, the Court
affirms the Commissioner’s decision, denies Mr. Dial’s request for relief, and dismisses with
prejudice Mr. Dial’s complaint (Dkt. No. 2). Judgment will be entered by separate Order.
It is so ordered this the 30th day of June, 2017.
Kristine G. Baker
United States District Judge
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