Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Godfrey v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

February 9, 2018

WILSON TROY GODFREY, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Robert S. Ballou United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff 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).

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         This 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.[1] 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).

         CLAIM HISTORY

         Godfrey 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.

         On November 18, 2015, the ALJ entered his decision analyzing Godfrey's claim under the familiar five-step process, [2] and 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. Id.

         Godfrey appealed the ALJ's decision to the Appeals Council, but his request for review was subsequently denied. R. 1. This appeal followed.

         ANALYSIS

         Godfrey 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.

         Treating Physicians

         Godfrey 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.

         The 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.

         Conversely, 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. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.