United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER 
C. RICHARDSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
CAUSE is before the Court on Plaintiff's appeal
of an administrative decision denying her applications for a
period of disability, disability insurance benefits, and
supplemental security income. After holding two
administrative hearings on October 1, 2014 and April 15,
2015, respectively, the assigned Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) issued a decision finding Plaintiff not
disabled from September 5, 2011, the alleged disability onset
date, through May 11, 2015, the date of the ALJ's
decision. (Tr. 29-39, 46-68, 214, 221.) Based on a review of
the record, the briefs, and the applicable law, the
Commissioner's decision is due to be
scope of this Court's review is limited to determining
whether the Commissioner applied the correct legal standards,
McRoberts v. Bowen, 841 F.2d 1077, 1080 (11th Cir.
1988), and whether the Commissioner's findings are
supported by substantial evidence, Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 390 (1971). “Substantial
evidence is more than a scintilla and is such relevant
evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Crawford v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158 (11th Cir. 2004). Where
the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial
evidence, the district court will affirm, even if the
reviewer would have reached a contrary result as finder of
fact, and even if the reviewer finds that the evidence
preponderates against the Commissioner's decision.
Edwards v. Sullivan, 937 F.2d 580, 584 n.3 (11th
Cir. 1991); Barnes v. Sullivan, 932 F.2d 1356, 1358
(11th Cir. 1991). The district court must view the evidence
as a whole, taking into account evidence favorable as well as
unfavorable to the decision. Foote v. Chater, 67
F.3d 1553, 1560 (11th Cir. 1995); accord Lowery v.
Sullivan, 979 F.2d 835, 837 (11th Cir. 1992) (stating
the court must scrutinize the entire record to determine the
reasonableness of the Commissioner's factual findings).
argues that the ALJ's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) determination is not supported by
substantial evidence because the ALJ failed to indicate the
weight assigned to the treatment notes of her treating
physicians, Dr. Parveen Khanna and Dr. Haito Zhang, and gave
only little weight to the opinions of her examining
physician, Dr. Cathy Whitley, while giving great weight to
the opinions of the State agency, non-examining physician,
Dr. Minal Krishnamurthy. Plaintiff also argues that the ALJ
incorrectly indicated that the vocational expert
(“VE”) testified that Plaintiff could perform her
past relevant work of a cashier and a sales clerk, as
actually and generally performed, when no question with the
RFC determination was posed to the VE. Plaintiff further
argues that the ALJ erred in finding she was not entirely
credible when the record revealed that Plaintiff suffered
from documented impairments causing significant limitations.
Plaintiff contends that the ALJ did not offer any specific
and accurate reasons for undermining her testimony and for
supporting the credibility determination. The Court does not
find any reversible error.
two of the five-step sequential evaluation process, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff's spine disorder was a severe
impairment. (Tr. 31.) The ALJ then found that Plaintiff had
the RFC to perform the full range of light work as defined in
20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b) and § 416.967(b). (Tr. 34.)
In doing so, the ALJ discussed Plaintiff's complaints and
daily activities, the treatment notes, the objective medical
records, Dr. Whitley's examination findings and opinions,
and the State agency non-examining doctor's opinions.
argues that the ALJ erred in failing to state the weight
assigned to the treatment notes of Dr. Parveen Khanna and Dr.
Haitao Zhang, which indicated that Plaintiff continued to
experience pain limiting her daily activities. Although the
treatment notes of Dr. Khanna and Dr. Zhang reference pain,
numbness, spasms, and/or musculoskeletal tenderness, among
other symptoms (see, e.g., Tr. 400, 402-05, 408-10,
469, 478, 503, 505-06, 523), these doctors did not provide
medical opinions that the ALJ was required to
weigh. Neither Dr. Khanna nor Dr. Zhang included
any specific functional limitations and their treatment notes
do not suggest that Plaintiff was unable to perform light
work. (See id.) Thus, the ALJ did not err in his
evaluation of the treating doctors' progress notes.
also argues that the ALJ erred in giving little weight to Dr.
Whitley's examining opinions, while giving great weight
to Dr. Krishnamurthy's non-examining opinions. The ALJ
addressed Dr. Whitley's examination findings, which were
normal except for a positive straight leg raising test
bilaterally. (Tr. 36.) Then, the ALJ addressed Dr.
Whitley's opinions as follows:
In a medical source statement, the consulting examiner Dr.
Whitley opines the following claimant [sic] limitations:
never lift and carry; sit for 8 hours, stand for 2 hours, and
walk for 2 hours total in an 8-hour workday; occasionally
reach overhead and frequently reach in all other directions
with the right hand; occasionally reach overhead and in all
other directions, and push/pull with the left hand;
frequently handle, finger, and feel with the left hand; never
use the feet for the operation of foot controls; never climb
ladders or scaffolds; occasionally climb stairs and ramps,
balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; never tolerate
exposure to unprotected heights, moving mechanical part
[sic], operating a motor vehicle; and occasionally tolerate
exposure to humidity and wetness, dust, odors, fumes, and
pulmonary irritants, extreme cold, extreme heat, and
vibrations (Exhibit 9F). The undersigned gives little weight
to this opinion, as it is entirely inconsistent with the
objective clinical findings by Dr. Whitley. Specifically, the
objective findings on examination by Dr. Whitley are entirely
benign and fail to show any indication of musculoskeletal
tenderness, spasm, trigger points, reduced range of motion,
or neurological deficits. Furthermore, radiographic findings
fail to show more than minimal degenerative osteoarthritis.
It appears that Dr. Whitley's opinion is based on the
claimant's subjective complaints, rather than on
objective findings as detailed above.
did not err in his evaluation of Dr. Whitley's opinions
either. Dr. Whitley's physical examination of Plaintiff
showed no abnormalities, other than a positive straight leg
raising test bilaterally. (Tr. 533-34.) Further, as the ALJ
pointed out, the radiographic findings failed to show more
than minimal degenerative osteoarthritis. (Tr. 534.) As such,
it appears that Dr. Whitley's opinion was indeed based on
Plaintiff's subjective complaints, which are listed on
the first page of the doctor's report. (Tr. 532.)
Therefore, the ALJ's reasons for giving little weight to
Dr. Whitley's opinions in the Medical Source Statement of
Ability to Do Work-Related Activities, are supported by
substantial evidence. (Tr. 540-45.)
formulating the RFC, the ALJ also considered the opinions of
the State agency non-examining doctor, who opined that
Plaintiff was capable of performing light work, and gave them
great weight. (Tr. 38, 92-93 (opining, inter alia,
that Plaintiff was capable of lifting and/or carrying 20
pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently, standing and/or
walking about six hours, and sitting about six hours in an
eight-hour workday).) The ALJ explained that Dr.
Krishnamurthy's opinion was “supported by the
rather benign objective physical [sic] and findings of
record, the course of conservative treatment with good
response, and the record as a whole.” (Tr. 38.)
ALJ's evaluation of Dr. Krishnamurthy's opinion is
supported by substantial evidence. As the ALJ pointed out,
the objective medical evidence was rather benign. (Tr. 534
& 539 (noting minimal degenerative osteoarthritis); Tr.
547 (stating that a June 16, 2011 lumbar CT scan showed no
significant change from a previous MRI of February 20, 2006,
and specifically noting central disc herniation L4-5
superimposed on a disc bulge and a disc bulge eccentric to
the right L5-1).) In addition, Plaintiff was treated
conservatively with pain medications and some injection
therapy, and her response to the treatment was generally
good. (See Tr. 381-90; Tr. 400 & 403
(“Pain medication helps the patient manage the
pain.”); Tr. 468-69, 475, 477, 480-81, 491, 506, 510,
513, 516; but see Tr. 406 (“I increased Lortab
from bid to tid and Soma from one per day to two per day.
Pain medication somewhat help [sic] the patient manage the
pain.”), Tr. 472 (increasing MS Contin to better manage
the pain), Tr. 494, 502 (stating the lumbar trigger point
injections have not helped much).) Also, as indicated in Dr.
Krishnamurthy's RFC, Plaintiff reported she was able to
lift 50 pounds and was independent in her daily activities.
(Tr. 93; see also Tr. 395 (“Ms. Bushey stated
that she could lift and carry with her reported limitations
as, ‘no more than (50) fifty pounds and then more than
50 pounds and it hurts in the back.' . . . Ms. Bushey
does not appear to have any problems ...