finding of no disability was based on substantial evidence. The plaintiff asserts that the objective medical evidence, such as her EKG, showed evidence of a disability. Plaintiff also contends that the ALJ gave almost no weight to her testimony regarding her subjective complaints. The court disagrees with the argument that the evidence presented requires a finding of substantial disability. The court finds that the ALJ's conclusions are supported by the material in the record, and that the ALJ properly assessed the evidence presented.
The function of the ALJ is to weigh the evidence. Even if an inconsistent conclusion may have been drawn from the evidence, as long as there is substantial evidence in the record to support the ALJ's findings, his conclusion must stand. Walker, 834 F.2d at 640. In the instant case, in making his decision, the ALJ considered McBride's testimony, as well as the reports submitted by Dr. Relyea, and Dr. Sie. The ALJ must weigh all the evidence and may not ignore evidence that suggests an opposite conclusion. Whitney v. Schweiker, 695 F.2d 784, 788 (7th Cir. 1982). While the ALJ did not find in the plaintiff's favor, his decision indicates that he did not ignore evidence suggesting an opposite conclusion.
In the case at bar, the ALJ found that McBride's impairments do not prevent her from returning to her former work. In support of this finding, the ALJ cited Dr. Relyea's letter suggesting that some of McBride's ailments were under control with medication, as well as assorted tests and a physical examination conducted by Dr. Sie, of the Illinois Disability Determination Service, found that McBride was not disabled and found no evidence that McBride suffers from a severe heart condition, or arthritis. There were no indications that plaintiff's pain or weakness were so severe that they interfered with her ability to eat, sleep or concentrate.
It was reasonable for the ALJ to find that, although McBride's treating physician diagnosed her as experiencing various impairments, and concluded that plaintiff was disabled, this opinion was not supported by sufficient medical evidence. Dr. Relyea's opinion was not supported by any objective clinical tests, and was contradicted by Dr. Sie, who conducted a thorough consultative examination of the plaintiff. Despite plaintiff's arguments otherwise, the ALJ is not bound by plaintiff's treating physician's conclusion of disability, particularly when that conclusion is not supported by objective evidence. DeFrancesco v. Bowen, 867 F.2d 1040, 1043 (7th Cir. 1989). Further, case law clearly indicates that medical conclusions of consulting physicians do not necessarily outweigh the conclusions of consulting physicians. Walker, 834 F.2d at 644. See also, Stephens v. Heckler, 766 F.2d 284, 289 (7th Cir. 1985).
The ALJ considered, but appeared to give little credence to McBride's testimony that she is suffering from severe pain. Although the ALJ did not believe plaintiff's testimony, he did offer a minimal articulation of his assessment of the evidence in order to permit the appellate court to review his decision. Zalewski v. Heckler, 760 F.2d 160, 166 (7th Cir. 1985). In this case, the ALJ commented on the plaintiff's appearance, noting that she did not appear to be fatigued, or in pain, throughout the hearing. The ALJ noted that plaintiff has not lost weight, or suffered from an inability to concentrate. The ALJ finally noted that despite plaintiff's complaints of pain and fatigue, her own physician failed to mention these complaints in his report.
The denial of benefits must be based on substantial evidence. Imani v. Heckler, 797 F.2d 508 (7th Cir. 1986). At the same time, the plaintiff has the ultimate burden of establishing entitlement to benefits by proving the existence of a disability. Walker v. Bowen, 834 F.2d 635, 640, n. 3 (7th Cir. 1987). The ALJ properly considered all of the plaintiff's complaints, and all of the evidence supporting her claim, but was not persuaded that plaintiff is disabled within the meaning of the Act. Relying on Dr. Relyea's letter and plaintiff's testimony, the ALJ found that plaintiff's complaints of chest pain are cured by nitroglycerin. The ALJ cited Dr. Relyea's letter as proof that plaintiff's seizures are infrequent, and reasonably well controlled by dilantin. Based on Dr. Sie's report, the ALJ concluded that there was no medical proof that McBride suffers from arthritis. (When diagnoses are not supported by medically acceptable clinical and diagnostic techniques, such diagnoses need not be accorded great weight.) Arbogast v. Bowen, 860 F.2d 1400, 1405 (7th Cir. 1988). Based on the results of tests and examinations conducted by the Disability Determination Service, the ALJ concluded that McBride is not suffering from a severe heart ailment. The objective medical evidence, coupled with his own observations led the ALJ to conclude that the plaintiff's pain and fatigue is not severe enough to amount to a disability under the Act. The court finds that the ALJ's conclusion that the plaintiff is not suffering from a disability is both reasonable and supported by the available evidence.
McBride's last argument is that the ALJ's decision was not based on any vocational assessment. This argument is without merit. Based on the medical evidence the ALJ found that McBride is able to perform her past relevant work, although her condition prevents her from performing heavy work activity. The ALJ also ruled out jobs that are performed at heights, around unguarded machinery, or which require the operation of a motor vehicle. The ALJ's assessment was supported by the letter from McBride's physician, which states only that plaintiff is precluded from doing stressful work, or work requiring unusual physical activity. The ALJ apparently rejected the report issued by the Vocational Assessment Specialist from the Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services and that decision was within the ALJ's discretion.
For the foregoing reasons, the defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted. This case is dismissed. Plaintiff's cross motion for summary judgment is denied.
© 1992-2004 VersusLaw Inc.