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Chesser v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division

August 12, 2014

SELENA CHESSER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOE J. VOLPE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Selena Chesser, appeals the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the "Commissioner") denying her claims for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") under Title II of the Social Security Act (the "Act") and for supplemental security income ("SSI") benefits under Title XVI of the Act. For reasons set out below, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.

I. BACKGROUND

On July 29, 2010, Ms. Chesser protectively filed for SSI and DIB benefits due to nerve damage in her feet, migraines, arthritis, degenerative discs in her neck, anxiety, and depression. (Tr. 149) Ms. Chesser's claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. At her request, an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") held a hearing on November 16, 2011, where Ms. Chesser appeared with her lawyer. (Tr. 24) At the hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from Ms. Chesser and a vocational experts ("VE"). (Tr. 25-76)

The ALJ issued a decision on February 10, 2012, finding that Ms. Chesser was not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 8-19) The Appeals Council denied Ms. Chesser's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. (Tr. 1-3)

Ms. Chesser, who was forty-seven years old at the time of the hearing, has an associates degree. (Tr. 29) She has past relevant work as a dental assistant, waitress, electrician laborer, and craft store owner. (Tr. 17-18)

II. DECISION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE[1]

The ALJ found that Ms. Chesser had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 10, 2010, and she had the following severe impairments: right side hallux limitus, deformity of the right second toe, degenerative disc disease of cervical spine, degenerative disc disease of thoracic spine with herniation, mild facet arthropathy of lumbar spine, pain disorder, depression, and anxiety. (Tr. 10) However, the ALJ found that Ms. Chesser did not have an impairment or combination of impairments meeting or equaling an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.[2] (Tr. 13)

According to the ALJ, Ms. Chesser has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work, but "she is limited to unskilled work, which is work where interpersonal contact is incidental to the work performed; the complexity of tasks is learned and performed by rote with few variables and uses little judgment; and the supervision required is simple, direct, and concrete." (Tr. 14) The VE testified that the jobs available with these limitations were cashier and production assembler. (Tr. 72)

After considering the VE's testimony, the ALJ determined that Ms. Chesser could perform a significant number of jobs existing in the national economy, and found that Ms. Chesser was not disabled.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Standard of Review

In reviewing the Commissioner's decision, this Court must determine whether there is substantial evidence in the record as a whole to support the decision. Boettcher v. Astrue, 652 F.3d 860, 863 (8th Cir. 2011); 42 U.S.C. ยง 405(g). Substantial evidence is "less than a preponderance, but sufficient for reasonable minds to find it adequate to support the decision." Id. (citing Guilliams v. Barnhart, 393 F.3d 798, 801 (8th Cir. 2005)).

In reviewing the record as a whole, the Court must consider both evidence that detracts from the Commissioner's decision and evidence that supports the decision; but, the decision cannot be reversed "simply because some evidence may support the opposite conclusion." ...


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