Hatfield v. Social Security Administration Commissioner
ORDER ADOPTING 14 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS. Signed by Honorable P. K. Holmes, III on May 30, 2017. (src)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
PEGGY LEE HATFIELD
Case No. 5:16-CV-5148
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner,
Social Security Administration
The Court has received proposed findings and recommendations (Doc. 14) from United
States Magistrate Judge Erin L. Wiedemann. The Court has conducted a careful review of the
findings and recommendations and of the timely objections (Doc. 15) filed by Plaintiff. After de
novo review of the record as to Plaintiff’s objections, the Court finds the Magistrate’s reasoning
to be sound and further finds that Plaintiff’s objections offer neither law nor fact requiring
departure from the Magistrates’ findings.
Plaintiff objects to alleged improper treatment of the opinions of Doctors Adkins and
Soliman since both physicians had been her primary treating physicians since 2013, saw her
frequently, and issued opinions that she argues were consistent with the medical record. (Doc. 15,
p. 3). She argues that the ALJ and Magistrate improperly disregarded these medical opinions
because they offered a unique perspective as provided for in 20 C.F.R § 416.927(c)(2) (Id., p. 5)
and should have been accorded controlling weight pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(c)(2). (Id.,
p. 4). Plaintiff also objects on the grounds that the ALJ and the Magistrate improperly assessed
her Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Id., p. 7). While treating physicians’ opinions are to
be given “great weight,” they are not conclusive and the record must be evaluated as a whole.
Rogers v. Chater, 118 F.3d 600, 602 (8th Cir. 1997) (citing Pena v. Chater, 76 F.3d 906, 908 (8th
Cir. 1996)). Moreover, opinions “of a treating physician can be discounted if other assessments
are supported by better or more thorough medical evidence.” Ward v. Heckler, 786 F.2d 844, 846
(8th Cir. 1986). “Even though the RFC assessment draws from medical sources for support, it is
ultimately an administrative determination reserved to the Commissioner.” Cox v. Astrue, 495
F.3d 614, 619–20 (8th Cir. 2007) (citing 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.927(e)(2), 416.946).
The Magistrate noted that the ALJ highlighted a lack of particular reasons stated by Dr.
Soliman for the limitations he imposed, and further called attention to the fact that Dr. Soliman’s
opinion was not entirely consistent with his own examinations or the rest of the medical record.
(Doc. 14, pp. 18-19). Similar findings were made as to Dr. Adkins’ opinion. (Id., p. 19). The
record also contains the opinions of four state agency medical consultants issued at relevant times,
and these opinions support the findings of the ALJ. (Doc. 13, p. 9). This shows that there were
conflicting medical opinions on the record that reached different conclusions. Further, the
opinions of Doctors Soliman and Adkins themselves were premised upon data and observations
that did not entirely support their ultimate conclusion. “It is the ALJ’s function to resolve conflicts
among the opinions of various treating and examining physicians.” Renstrom v. Astrue, 680 F.3d
1057, 1065 (8th Cir. 2012) (citations and quotations omitted). The ALJ considered all of the
evidence cited by Plaintiffs, but did not adopt the opinions of Doctors Soliman and Adkins, and
ultimately reached a different conclusion on the RFC determination. The Plaintiff’s objections do
not raise evidence overlooked, identify error, or in any other way undermine the conclusions
reached by the Magistrate. The Court therefore concludes that the findings and recommendations
should be, and hereby are, approved and adopted as this Court’s findings in all respects in their
entirety. Judgment will be entered accordingly.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 30th day of May, 2017.
s/P. K. Holmes, III
P.K. HOLMES, III
CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
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