Luster v. Colvin
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED, and Plaintiff's Complaint is DISMISSED with prejudice. A separate judgment will accompany this Order. Signed by District Judge John A. Ross on 3/31/15. (JWD)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
CAROLYN W. COLVIN,
Acting Commissioner of Social Security,
Case No. 4:14-CV-00143 JAR
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This is an action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for judicial review of the Commissioner of
Social Security's final decision denying Robert Luster's ("Luster") applications for disacility
insurance benefits and supplemental security income under Titles II and XVI of the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401, 1381 et seq.
On March 9, 2011, Luster filed applications for disability insurance and supplemental
security income under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401, 1381 et
seq. (Tr. 132-144) The Social Security Administration ("SSA") denied Luster's application on
April 12, 2011. (Tr. 75-76) He filed a timely request for a hearing before an administrative law
judge ("ALJ") on April 28, 2011. (Tr. 84-88) Following a hearing, the ALJ issued a written
decision on November 15, 2012, upholding the denial of benefits. (Tr. 13-28) Luster requested
review of the ALJ's decision by the Appeals Council. (Tr. 12) On November 27, 2013, the
Appeals Council denied Luster's request for review. (Tr. 1-6) Thus, the decision of the ALJ
stands as the final decision of the Commissioner. See Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 107 (2000).
Luster filed this appeal on January 24, 2014. (Doc. 1) The Commissioner filed an
Luster filed a Brief in Support of his Complaint.
(Doc. 15) The
Commissioner filed a Brief in Support of the Answer. (Doc. 20) Luster filed a Reply Brief.
Decision of the ALJ
The ALJ determined that Luster meets the insured status requirements of the Social
Security Act through September 30, 2011, and had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since October 1, 2009, the alleged onset date of disability. (Tr. 18) The ALJ found Luster had
the severe impairments of degenerative disc disease, medullary nephrocalcinosis and asthma but
that no impairment or combination of impairments met or medically equaled the severity of one
of the listed impairments in 20 C.F .R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Id.)
After considering the entire record, the ALJ determined Luster has the residual functional
capacity ("RFC") to perform light work, except that he should avoid concentrated exposure to
temperature (heat) extremes, humidity, and lung irritants such as fumes, dusts and gases. (Tr.
19) The ALJ found Luster unable to perform any past relevant work, but that there are jobs that
exist in significant numbers in the national economy that he can perform. (Tr. 24) Thus, the
ALJ concluded that a finding of "not disabled" was appropriate.
arguing a lack of substantial evidence to support the Commissioner's decision.
The following is a summary of the relevant evidence before the ALJ.
The ALJ held a hearing in this matter on July 2, 2012. The ALJ heard testimony from
Luster and Robin Cook, Ph.D., a vocational expert. (Tr. 29-73)
Luster was 51 years old at the time of the hearing and living alone. (Tr. 35) His fiancee
lives down the hall from him. (Tr. 35) He does not have a high school degree. (Tr. 44) He has
been unable to maintain employment since he was hurt on the job in 1989. (Tr. 35)
Luster's counsel indicated Luster's health problems are degenerative disc disease,
asthma, and medullary nephrocalcinosis. (Tr. 36) Luster experiences pain in his lower middle
portion of his back. (Tr. 38) On a scale of 1 to 10, Luster rates his pain on average as a 4. @.)
Pain pills and lying down makes his back feel better. (Id.) However, standing too long or doing
too much walking makes it worse. (Id.) He reports being able to stand for 20 minutes to a half
hour and being able to walk for about 15 minutes. (Tr. 39) He also indicates that he can only sit
for 20 minutes to half an hour. (Tr. 38) After that, he has to stand to relieve the pressure. (Id.)
He can carry a gallon of milk. (Tr. 39) He has slight difficulty bending forward. (Tr. 40) He
also reports that his right side, in the front, swells when he does excessive walking. (Id.) He
experiences this swelling daily. (Tr. 41) He has to lie down to make it go away. @.) He takes
naps every day for about an hour, sometimes two. (Id.) He is unable to put on his own socks.
Luster's counsel explained that medullary nephrocalcinosis involves excess calcium in
the kidneys. (Tr. 37) He has trouble with his asthma when it is hot or humid. (Tr. 43) Pollen
and dust also bothers his asthma. (Id.) At the time of the hearing, Luster had not smoked
cigarettes for about a week. (Tr. 36)
He is unable to do ariy chores because of his pain. (Tr. 42) He sometimes is able to rinse
out a dish but is not able to clean or mop the floors. (Tr. 41) He does not go to the grocery store.
(Tr. 42) He leaves his home maybe twice a week for church and to sit outside. (Id.)
Testimony of Vocational Expert
Vocational expert, Robin Cook, Ph.D., testified regarding Luster's vocational history as
follows. Luster has been a punch press operator, code 692.665-014, with a specific vocational
preparation ("SVP") of 2 and classified by the Dictionary of Occupational Titles ("DOT") as
medium work, a brake press operator, code 619.685-026, SVP of 4, semi-skilled work, medium,
a forklift driver, code 921.683-050, SVP 3, semi-skilled work, medium, a dining room attendant,
code 311.677-018, SVP 2, unskilled work, medium, an order clerk, clerical, code 249.362-026,
SVP 4, semi-skilled work, sedentary, a stores, laborer, code 922.687-058, SVP 2, unskilled work,
medium, and a welder, code 819.384-010, SVP 6, skilled work, medium. (Tr. 57-62) Based on
the claimant's testimony, Cook classified the punch press operator as sedentary work, the forklift
driver as light work, the dining room attendant as light work, the order clerk, clerical as light
work, and the welding work as sedentary in one setting and light in the other. (!Q.)
For hypothetical one, the ALJ asked Cook to assume a person with the same age,
education, and work experience as Luster capable of performing medium work with the
following limitations: avoid concentrated exposure to heat and humidity as well as moderate
exposure to lung irritants - fumes, odors, dust, gases, and poorly ventilated areas. (Tr. 63) She
determined that such a person would be able to perform Luster's previous jobs of dining room
attendant and order clerk, clerical. (Id.) Such a person would also be able to perform other jobs
such as kitchen helper, code 318.687-010, SVP of 2, medium work.
There are 9,830 such
positions locally and 504,280 nationally. (Tr. 66) In addition, such a person could perform the
job of linen-room attendant, code 222.387-030, SVP of2, medium. There are 364 such positions
locally and 19,930 nationally. (!Q.)
For the second hypothetical, the ALJ asked Cook to assume the same limitations from the
first hypothetical but at the light exertional level. (Tr. 67) Cook determined that Luster could
return to the order clerk, clerical position. (Id.) Such a person would also be able to work as an
officer helper, code 239.567-010, SVP 2, light work. There are 1,910 such positions locally and
93,250 nationally. (Tr. 67-68) Such a person would additionally be able to work as a recreation
aide, code 195.367-030. There are 4,460 such positions locally and 253,000 nationally. (Tr. 68)
Such a person could also work as a data examination clerk, code 209.387-022, SVP of 3,
sedentary. There are 1,127 locally and 48,833 nationally.
@.) Finally, there is a charge
account clerk position that a person could do, code 205.367-014, SVP of 2, sedentary, unskilled.
There are 4,350 locally and 200,150 nationally. (Tr. 69)
Finally, the ALJ asked Cook if any of these light or sedentary jobs would allow for a
sit/stand option every half hour. (Tr. 69) It was Cook's testimony that the order clerk, clerical
should amenable to that but that the data examination clerk and the charge account clerk would
be less amenable. (Tr. 70)
Luster's attorney then asked Cook to assume a hypothetical individual, same age,
education, and past work experience as the claimant, who would require the ability to nap or lie
down during the course of an eight-hour day for up to an hour during the day. (Tr. 70-71) Cook
testified that such an individual would not be capable of any of Luster's past work. (Tr. 71)
Cook further stated that in terms of reclining, that it is not something provided at the workplace,
and as for the unscheduled breaks, if it is something that occurs in addition to the regular breaks,
that it is not tolerated very well. (Id.)
The ALJ summarized Luster's medical records at Tr. 19-23. Relevant medical records are
discussed as part of the analysis.
The Social Security Act defines as disabled a person who 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. § 1382c(a)(3)(A); see
also Brantley v. Colvin, 2013 WL 4007441, at
* 2 (E.D.
Mo. Aug. 2, 2013). The impairment
must be "of such severity that [the claimant] is not only unable to do his previous work but
cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of
substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy, regardless of whether such work
exists in the immediate area in which he lives, or whether a specific job vacancy exists for him,
or whether he would be hired ifhe applied for work." 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(B).
Under the Social Security Act, the Commissioner has established a five-step process for
determining whether a person is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(a), 404.1520(a). "If a claimant
fails to meet the criteria at any step in the evaluation of disability, the process ends and the
claimant is determined to be not disabled." Goff v. Barnhart, 421 F.3d 785, 790 (8th Cir. 2005)
(quoting Eichelberger v. Barnhart, 390 F.3d 584, 590-91 (8th Cir. 2004)). First, the claimant
must not be engaged in "substantial gainful activity." 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(a), 404.1520(a).
Second, the claimant must have a "severe impairment," defined as "any impairment or
combination of impairments which significantly limits [claimant's] physical or mental ability to
do basic work activities." 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(c), 404.1520(c). "The sequential evaluation
process may be terminated at step two only when the claimant's impairment or combination of
impairments would have no more than a minimal impact on [his or] her ability to work." Page v.
Astrue, 484 F.3d 1040, 1043 (8th Cir. 2007) (quoting Caviness v. Massanari, 250 F.3d 603, 605
(8th Cir. 2001).
Third, the claimant must establish that his or her impairment meets or equals an
impairment listed in the Regulations. 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(d), 404.1520(d). If the claimant has
one of, or the medical equivalent of, these impairments, then the claimant is per se disabled
without consideration of the claimant's age, education, or work history. Id.
Before considering step four, the ALJ must determine the claimant's residual functional
capacity ("RFC"). 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e). RFC is defined as "the most a claimant
can do despite [his] limitations." Moore v. Astrue, 572 F.3d 520, 523 (8th Cir. 2009) (citing 20
C.F.R. § 404.1545(a)(l)). At step four, the ALJ determines whether the claimant can return to his
past relevant work, by comparing the claimant's RFC with the physical and mental demands of
416.920(a)(4)(iv), 416.920(f); McCoy v. Astrue, 648 F.3d 605, 611 (8th Cir. 2011). If the
claimant can still perform past relevant work, he will not be found to be disabled; if the claimant
cannot, the analysis proceeds to the next step. Id.
At step five, the ALJ considers the claimant's RFC, age, education, and work experience
to see if the claimant can make an adjustment to other work in the national economy. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 416.920(a)(4)(v). If the claimant cannot make an adjustment to other work, then he will be
found to be disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(a)(4)(v), 404.1520(a)(4)(v). Through step four, the
burden remains with the· claimant to prove that he is disabled. Brantley, 2013 WL 4007441, at *3
(citation omitted). At step five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to establish that the
claimant maintains the RFC to perform a significant number of jobs within the national
economy. Id. The Commissioner may refer to the Medical-Vocational Guidelines or "Grids," 20
CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2, 1 to meet this burden. Pearsall v. Massanari, 274 F.3d
1211, 1219 (8th Cir. 2001). "The ultimate burden of persuasion to prove disability, however,
remains with the claimant." Meyerpeter v. Astrue, 902 F.Supp.2d 1219, 1229 (E.D. Mo. 2012)
The court's role on judicial review is to determine whether the ALJ's findings are
supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole. Pate-Fires v. Astrue, 564 F.3d 935,
942 (8th Cir.2009). In determining whether the evidence is substantial, the court considers
evidence that both supports and detracts from the Commissioner's decision. Cox v. Astrue, 495
F.3d 614, 617 (8th Cir. 2007). As long as substantial evidence supports the decision, the court
may not reverse it merely because substantial evidence exists in the record that would support a
contrary outcome or because the court would have decided the case differently. See Krogmeier v.
Barnhart, 294 F.3d 1019, 1022 (8th Cir.2002).
To determine whether the ALJ' s final decision is supported by substantial evidence, the
Court is required to review the administrative record as a whole and to consider:
(1) The findings of credibility made by the ALJ;
(2) The education, background, work history, and age of the claimant;
(3) The medical evidence given by the claimant's treating physicians;
(4) The subjective complaints of pain and description of the claimant's physical
activity and impairment;
(5) The corroboration by third parties of the claimant's physical impairment;
(6) The testimony of vocational experts based upon prior hypothetical questions
which fairly set forth the claimant's physical impairment; and
The Grids "are a set of charts listing certain vocational profiles that warrant a finding of disability or
non-disability." Phillips v. Astrue, 671F.3d699, 702 (8th Cir. 2012). "If the ALJ's findings as to RFC,
age, education, and work experience fit any of the combinations of those criteria contained in the Tables
in Appendix 2 to Part 404, then the ALJ must reach the conclusion (either 'disabled' or 'not disabled')
directed by the relevant Rule or line of the applicable Table." Id. (quoting Reed v. Sullivan, 988 F.2d 812,
816 (8th Cir. 1993)).
(7) The testimony of consulting physicians.
Brand v. Sec'y of Dept. of Health, Educ. & Welfare, 623 F.2d 523, 527 (8th Cir. 1980).
In his appeal of the Commissioner's decision, Luster raises two issues. First, Luster
asserts that the ALJ erred in determining Residual Functional Capacity ("RFC") by failing to
find additional limitations supported by the record arising out of his impairments, including those
indicated by Dr. Sarwath Bhattacharya, by improperly analyzing the medical evidence, and by
failing to give a sufficient explanation or sufficiently cite medical evidence (Doc. 15 at 9-16)
Second, Luster argues that the ALJ erred in assessing his credibility by failing to make
sufficiently specific findings regarding his testimony, or sufficiently apply the factors set forth in
the applicable cases on this issue. (Id. at 16-20)
"RFC is an assessment of an individual's ability to do sustained work-related physical
and mental activities in a work setting on a regular and continuing basis.
A 'regular and
continuing basis' means 8 hours a day, for 5 days a week, or an equivalent work schedule." SSR
96-8p, 1996 WL 374184, at *1 (July 2, 1996). "RFC is assessed ... based on all of the relevant
evidence in the case record .... " SSR 96-8p, 1996 WL 374184, at *2. All of the relevant
evidence in the case record includes medical records, observations of treating physicians and
others, and the claimant's own descriptions of her limitations. Guilliams v. Barnhart, 393 F.3d
798, 801 (8th Cir. 2005). The Eighth Circuit has held that a "claimant's residual functional
capacity is a medical question." Lauer v. Apfel, 245 F.3d 700, 704 (8th Cir. 2001). Therefore,
an ALJ's determination concerning a claimant's RFC must be supported by medical evidence that
addresses the claimant's ability to function in the workplace." Lewis v. Barnhart, 353 F.3d 642,
646 (8th Cir. 2003).
Luster asserts that the ALJ's RFC determination is not supported by substantial evidence,
resulting from an improper evaluation of the evidence and failure to include sufficient limitations
arising from Luster's impairments, including those suggested by Dr. Bhattacharya. (Doc. 15 at
13) As a preliminary matter, the Court finds that Dr. Bhattacharya is not a treating source. Not
all treating healthcare providers are "treating sources." A treating source is the claimant's own
physician, psychologist or other acceptable medical source who provides the claimant, or has
provided the claimant, with medical treatment or evaluation and who has, or has had, an ongoing
treatment relationship with the claimant. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1502. Dr. Bhattacharya was not
Luster's own physician; Luster saw her a single time, at the request of the state agency. (Doc. 15
In weighing medical opinion evidence such as Dr. Bhattacharya's, the ALJ considers six
20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(c).
The first three factors analyze the doctor's treatment
relationship with the claimant, including the length of treatment and the type of relationship, in
order to determine whether the doctor is familiar enough with the claimant to justify assigning
the opinion greater weight. Id. The other three factors consider whether the doctor supported his
opinion with specific facts or evidence, whether the doctor's opinion is consistent with other
evidence and opinions, and whether there are "other facts" including the doctor's familiarity with
the claimant's case. Id. An ALJ need not explicitly address each of the factors. Derda v.
Astrue, 2011WL1304909, at *10 (E.D. Mo. Mar. 31, 2011) (collecting cases).
Dr. Bhattacharya examined Luster on August 23, 2012 and subsequently completed a
medical source statement. (Tr. 340-352) In her report, Dr. Bhattacharya concluded that Luster
could occasionally lift and carry up to 10 pounds, sit for 45 minutes at a time, stand for 20
minutes at a time, and walk one block. (Tr. 344-45) She also found that he could frequently
reach (overhead), reach (all other), handle, finger, feel, push/pull and operate foot controls. (Tr.
346) Regarding Luster's posture, Dr. Bhattacharya reported that Luster could occasionally climb
stairs and ramps, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl, never climb ladders or scaffolds, and frequently
balance. (Tr. 347) She noted several restrictions regarding Luster's exposure to environmental
limitations, specifically that he could never tolerate exposure to operating a motor vehicle,
humidity and wetness, dust, odors, fumes and pulmonary irritants, and extreme cold. (Tr. 348)
She concluded that Luster could perform all of the listed activities on the form including
shopping, using standard public transportation, and sorting, handling, or using paper/files. (Tr.
The ALJ assigned Dr. Bhattacharya's opinion "no weight." (Tr. 20, 23) In so-doing, the
ALJ found Dr. Bhattacharya's opinion inconsistent with other medical evidence in the record.
The ALJ found the clinical examination and medical records suggested only mild limitation. (Tr.
23) Specifically, the ALJ noted inconsistencies including several emergency room visits where
the claimant indicated no back pain or that the back pain would be quickly resolved. (Tr. 20)
The ALJ also found Dr. Bhattacharya's report inconsistent with her own treatment notes. Dr.
Bhattacharya's report indicated only '"mild tenderness' on the left with lateral flexion". (Tr. 23,
342) Further, at the examination, Luster exhibited full muscle strength in all groups, but refused
to perform flexion/extension of the lumber spine. (Tr. 23, 342) The ALJ also found that Dr.
Bhattacharya relied heavily on the subjective report of symptoms and limitations provided by the
claimant. See Kirby v. Astrue, 500 F.3d 705 (8th Cir. 2007) ("The ALJ was entitled to give less
weight to [the consulting physician's] opinion, because it was based largely on [the claimant's]
subjective complaints rather than on objective medical evidence.") The ALJ concluded that the
limitations suggested by Dr. Bhattacharya were not supported by the clinical testing at the
The Court finds that the ALJ properly discounted the
assessment in Dr. Bhattacharya's report after finding it was not supported by other medical
evidence in the record or by her own records, and relied heavily on the subjective report of the
claimant. See Casey v. Astrue, 503 F.3d 687, 693-94 (8th Cir. 2007) (finding the ALJ properly
discounted the opinion of a consulting examiner when it relied largely on the claimant's
subjective report and was inconsistent with the objective medical evidence).
Luster additionally asserts that the ALJ supported her RFC determination with her own
medical conclusions about the evidence, not objective medical evidence. (See Doc. 15 at 10-11,
13, 15-16) Luster specifically points to the ALJ's observation that,
The claimant has not generally received the type of medical treatment one would expect
for a totally disabled individual. The record reveals relatively infrequent trips to the
doctor for the allegedly disabling symptoms. Although the claimant has received
treatment for the allegedly disabling impairments, that treatment has been essentially
routine and/or conservative in nature.
(Tr. 22) Luster also details several parts of the record that detract from the ALJ's decision at
step four. (Doc. 15 at 14-15; Doc. 23 at 1-3) If the ALJ had stopped with this canned language
alone, the Court might have found Luster's argument persuasive. See Lauer v. Apfel, 245 F.3d
700, 704 (8th Cir. 2001) ("[A] claimant's residual functional capacity is a medical question.
Some medical evidence must support the determination of the claimant's RFC, and the ALJ
should obtain medical evidence that addresses the claimant's ability to function in the
workplace.") (internal citations and quotations omitted) However, that is not the case. Not only
did the ALJ provide a narrative of the sparse medical record2 (Tr. 22), she also made detailed
findings regarding both his back pain and his asthma. Specifically the ALJ found that for his
back pain, Luster was given medication and prescribed physical therapy. She also noted that the
record does not reflect that Luster ever attended therapy. (Tr. 22, 246) She further observed that
Luster did not specify any particular complaint about his back on several occasions. (Tr. 22) As
for his asthma, the ALJ noted that inhalers controlled Luster's asthma and that he continued to
smoke against the advice of physicians to quit. (Tr. 22) Luster argues that "the ALJ cited no
medical evidence that smoking cessation would have altered [his] back pain or medullary
nephrocalcinosis ...." (Doc. 15 at 16) This point is irrelevant as the ALJ's discussion of
Luster's smoking directly relates to his asthma. Accordingly, the Court finds the ALJ's RFC
determination supported by substantial evidence.
Luster next asserts that the ALJ erred in assessing Luster's credibility because she failed
to make sufficiently specific findings regarding his testimony or sufficiently apply the required
factors. (Doc. 15 at 16-19) "The credibility of a claimant's subjective testimony is primarily for
the ALJ to decide, not the courts." Holmstrom v. Massanari, 270 F.3d 715, 721 (8th Cir. 2001).
In assessing a claimant's credibility, the ALJ must consider: (1) the claimant's daily activities; (2)
the duration, intensity, and frequency of pain; (3) the precipitating and aggravating factors; (4)
the dosage, effectiveness, and side effects of medication; (5) any functional restrictions; (6) the
claimant's work history; and (7) the absence of objective medical evidence to support the
claimant's complaints. Finch v. Astrue, 547 F.3d 933, 935 (8th Cir. 2008); Polaski v. Heckler,
Luster visited the Emergency Room 5 times, on August 14, 2009 (Tr. 240-252), June 9, 2010 (Tr. 224239), November 8, 2010 (Tr. 256-289), and June 8, 2011 (Tr. 304-320). Of those 5 visits, one was a
result of a spider bite. He also very sporadically visited physicians; the record reflects 5 visits over the
course of approximately 3 years, not including that of Dr. Bhattacharya (Tr. 290-297, 300-303, 320-336).
739 F.2d 1320, 1322 (8th Cir. 1984). "An ALJ who rejects [subjective] complaints must make
an express credibility determination explaining the reasons for discrediting the complaints."
Singh v. Apfel, 222 F.3d 448, 452 (8th Cir. 2000). The ALJ does not have to explicitly discuss
each factor; "[i]t is sufficient if he acknowledges and considers [the] factors before discounting a
claimant's subjective complaints." Goff, 421 F.3d at 791.
Here, the ALJ discredited Luster's subjective complaints because they conflicted with the
objective medical evidence.
The ALJ found Luster's medical treatment infrequent and
essentially routine and/or conservative in nature. (Tr. 22) As discussed in more detail above, the
medical evidence supports this conclusion. Additionally, the absence of an objective medical
basis to support the degree of subjective complaints is an important factor in evaluating the
credibility of the claimant's testimony and complaints. Russell v. Sullivan, 950 F.2d 542, 545
(8th Cir. 1991). See also Forte v. Barnhart, 377 F.3d 892, 895 (8th Cir. 2004) (lack of objective
medical evidence is a factor an ALJ may consider). The ALJ similarly discredited Luster's
statements regarding his activities of daily living. (Tr. 23) Specifically, she found that they could
not objectively verify with any reasonable degree of certainty and, given the "relatively weak
medical evidence", it would be difficult to attribute the limitations to Luster's medical condition
as opposed to other reasons. (Tr. 23) Furthermore, the ALJ found Luster's credibility weakened
because he made inconsistent statements about his smoking and the treatment records did not
indicate that the Luster sought help with smoking cessation despite multiple suggestions to stop.
Mouser v. Astrue, 545 F.3d 634, 638 (8th Cir. 2008) (holding that "the ALJ
appropriately considered [plaintiff]'s failure to stop smoking in his credibility determination"
where "there [was] no dispute that smoking has a direct impact on [plaintiff]'s pulmonary
Accordingly, in a manner consistent with and as required by Polaski, the ALJ considered
Luster's subjective complaints on the basis of the entire record and set out numerous
inconsistencies that detracted from his credibility. Because the ALJ's determination not to credit
Luster's subjective complaints is supported by good reasons and substantial evidence, the Court
defers to her determination. Cobb v. Colvin, 2014 WL 6845850, at *14 (E.D. Mo. Dec. 3, 2014)
(citing McDade v. Astrue, 720 F.3d 994, 998 (8th Cir. 2013); Renstrom v. Astrue, 680 F.3d
1057, 1065 (8th Cir. 2012); Goff, 421 F.3d at 793).
For the foregoing reasons, the Court finds the ALJ's decision is supported by substantial
evidence contained in the record as a whole, and, therefore, the Commissioner's decision should
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED, and
Plaintiffs Complaint is DISMISSED with prejudice. A separate judgment will accompany this
Dated this 31st day of January, 2015.
ED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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