United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
S. Ballou United States Magistrate Judge.
Wilson Troy Godfrey (“Godfrey”) filed this action
challenging the final decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security (“Commissioner”) determining that he was
not disabled and therefore not eligible for supplemental
security income (“SSI”), and disability insurance
benefits (“DIB”) under the Social Security Act
(“Act”). 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-433,
1381-1383f. Specifically, Godfrey alleges that the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred by (1)
giving limited weight to the opinions of Godfrey's two
treating physicians and greater weight to the opinions of two
state agency physicians; (2) failing to conduct a
function-by-function analysis when determining Godfrey's
residual functional capacity (“RFC”); and (3)
improperly discounting Godfrey's credibility. I conclude
that substantial evidence supports the Commissioner's
decision on all grounds. Accordingly, I RECOMMEND
DENYING Godfrey's Motion for Summary Judgment
(Dkt. No. 14), and GRANTING the
Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 18).
Court limits its review to a determination of whether
substantial evidence exists to support the Commissioner's
conclusion that Godfrey failed to demonstrate that he was
disabled under the Act. Mastro v. Apfel, 270 F.3d 171,
176 (4th Cir. 2001). “Substantial evidence is such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion; it consists of more than a
mere scintilla of evidence but may be somewhat less than a
preponderance.” Craig v. Chater, 76 F.3d 585,
589 (4th Cir. 1996) (internal citations omitted). The final
decision of the Commissioner will be affirmed where
substantial evidence supports the decision. Hays v.
Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th Cir. 1990).
protectively filed for SSI and DIB on September 11, 2012,
claiming that his disability began on July 15, 2011. R. 226.
The Commissioner denied the application at the initial and
reconsideration levels of administrative review. R. 139, 154.
On October 20, 2015, ALJ Jeffrey J. Schueler held an
administrative hearing to consider Godfrey's disability
claim. R. 57- 85. Godfrey was represented by an attorney at
the hearing, which included testimony from Godfrey and
vocational expert Robert Jackson. Id.
November 18, 2015, the ALJ entered his decision analyzing
Godfrey's claim under the familiar five-step process,
denying Godfrey's claim for disability. R. 42-52. The ALJ
found that Godfrey suffered from the severe impairments of
bilateral knee osteoarthritis and obesity. R. 44. The ALJ
further found that Godfrey retained the RFC to perform a
range of light work, but he is restricted to lifting about
twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently,
standing and/or walking up to six hours in an eight-hour
period, and sitting for up to six hours in an eight-hour
period. R. 46. Next, the ALJ found that Godfrey can
“never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, ” but
he can “occasionally climb ramps or stairs, balance,
stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl.” Id.While the
ALJ recognized the limitations in Godfrey's RFC, the ALJ
determined that Godfrey could return to his past relevant
work as a monitor technician or a clinical secretary. R. 51.
Thus, the ALJ concluded that Godfrey was not disabled.
appealed the ALJ's decision to the Appeals Council, but
his request for review was subsequently denied. R. 1. This
challenges the ALJ's decision denying his social security
disability benefits on three grounds: (1) that the ALJ erred
in giving less weight to the opinions of Godfrey's
treating physicians than he gave to the state agency
physicians; (2) that the ALJ failed to perform a
function-by-function analysis when developing Godfrey's
RFC; and (3) that the ALJ failed to adequately explain the
credibility determination of Godfrey's statements.
claims that the ALJ erred when he accorded less weight to
Godfrey's treating physicians while according more weight
to the state agency physicians. Specifically, Godfrey argues
that the “ALJ failed to provide good reasons for his
rejection of the opinions of [Godfrey's treating
physicians] as required.” Dkt. No. 15, at 13.
opinions at issue were rendered by Godfrey's treating
orthopedic surgeons, Drs. Thomas K. Miller and John W. Mann
III. Dr. Miller stated that Godfrey can stand and walk for
two hours in an eight-hour workday, can occasionally balance,
and can never climb, kneel, crouch, crawl, or stoop. R. 369.
Dr. Miller also concluded that Godfrey would be absent from
work more than three times each month. R. 371. Similarly, Dr.
Mann stated that Godfrey can stand and walk for four hours in
an eight-hour workday, can frequently lift and carry twenty
pounds of weight, and can occasionally lift and carry fifty
pounds of weight. R. 407. Dr. Mann further explained that
Godfrey is occasionally capable of climbing, balancing,
crouching, and stooping, but that he is never capable of
kneeling or crawling. R. 408. Additionally, Dr. Mann
concluded that Godfrey would be absent from work about once a
month. R. 410.
the state agency medical consultants subsequently explained
that Godfrey is not as limited as his treating physicians
assert. Robert Keeley, M.D., stated that Godfrey is capable
of frequently lifting and carrying ten pounds, occasionally
lifting and carrying twenty pounds, and walking, standing,
and sitting for six hours in an eight-hour workday. R. 94.
Dr. Keeley also noted that Godfrey is occasionally capable of
climbing ramps and stairs, balancing, stooping, kneeling,
crouching, and crawling, but is never capable of climbing
ladders, ropes, and scaffolds. Id. Robert McGuffin,
M.D., rendered a similar opinion, stating that Godfrey is
capable of frequently lifting and carrying ten pounds,
occasionally lifting and carrying twenty pounds, and walking,
standing, and sitting for six hours in an eight-hour workday.
R. 118. Dr. ...