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Cooper v. Colvin

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

August 19, 2014

AMBER COOPER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOE J. VOLPE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Amber Cooper, 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 26, 2010, Ms. Cooper protectively filed for SSI and DBI benefits due to back problems, asthma, learning disability, and anemia. (Tr. 177) Ms. Cooper's claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. At Ms. Cooper's request, an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") held a hearing on August 16, 2012, where Ms. Cooper appeared with her lawyer. (Tr. 84) At the hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from Ms. Cooper and a vocational expert ("VE"). (Tr. 85-102)

The ALJ issued a decision on September 10, 2012, finding that Ms. Cooper was not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 23-33) The Appeals Council denied Ms. Cooper's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. (Tr. 1-4)

Ms. Cooper, who was twenty-three years old at the time of the hearing, has an eighth grade education. (Tr. 88) She has past relevant work as a fast food worker. (Tr. 99)

II. DECISION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE[1]

The ALJ found that Ms. Cooper had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 9, 2009, and she had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease (status post laminectomy) and obesity. (Tr. 25) However, the ALJ found that Ms. Cooper 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. 28)

According to the ALJ, Ms. Cooper has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform sedentary work, but she can only occasionally stoop, crouch, crawl, or kneel. (Tr. 32, 99)[3] The VE testified that the jobs available with these limitations were bonders in the electronics industry and small parts mounters. (Tr. 100)

After considering the VE's testimony, the ALJ determined that Ms. Cooper could perform a significant number of jobs existing in the national economy, and found that Ms. Cooper 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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