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Washington v. Colvin

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

August 20, 2014

TANYA P. WASHINGTON, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOE J. VOLPE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Tanya Washington, appeals the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner") denying her claim for supplemental security income ("SSI") benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (the "Act"). For reasons set out below, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.

I. BACKGROUND

On December 15, 2010, Ms. Washington protectively filed for SSI benefits due to vision problems, diabetes, and high blood pressure, which she asserts began December 9, 2010. (Tr. 29, 177) Ms. Washington's claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. At Ms. Washington's request, an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") held a hearing on May 21, 2012, where Ms. Washington appeared with her lawyer. (Tr. 24) At the hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from Ms. Washington and a vocational expert ("VE"). (Tr. 24-57)

The ALJ issued a decision on June 14, 2012, finding that Ms. Washington was not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 9-23) On April 10, 2013, the Appeals Council denied Ms. Washington's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. (Tr. 1-6)

Ms. Washington, who was thirty-eight years old at the time of the hearing, has a high-school diploma. (Tr. 29) She has past relevant work experience as a teacher's assistant. (Tr. 54)

II. DECISION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE[1]

The ALJ found that Ms. Washington had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since December 15, 2010, and she had the following severe impairments: blindness in her right eye and diabetes mellitus. (Tr. 14) However, the ALJ found that Ms. Washington 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. 16)

According to the ALJ, Ms. Washington has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to do perform light work, except she could not read fine print or perform tasks requiring depth perception. (Tr. 16) The VE testified that the jobs available with these limitations were housekeeper and patch worker. (Tr. 19, 55-56)

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