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Taylor v. Colvin

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

September 10, 2014

CHRISTINA TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOE J. VOLPE, Magistrate Judge

Plaintiff, Christina Taylor, 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 March 3, 2011, Ms. Taylor protectively filed for SSI and DIB benefits due to back problems, pain in her legs, and sciatic nerve problems. (Tr. 31, 170) Ms. Taylor's claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. At Ms. Taylor's request, an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") held a hearing on November 15, 2012, where Ms. Taylor appeared with her lawyer. (Tr. 25) At the hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from Ms. Taylor and a vocational expert ("VE"). (Tr. 26-54)

The ALJ issued a decision on December 19, 2012, finding that Ms. Taylor was not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 11-19) The Appeals Council denied Ms. Taylor's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. (Tr. 1-3)

Ms. Taylor, who was forty years old at the time of the hearing, has a high school education. (Tr. 32) She has past relevant work as metal production assembler. (Tr. 29-30) II. DECISION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE[1]

The ALJ found that Ms. Taylor had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 4, 2011, and she had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease and depression. (Tr. 14) However, the ALJ found that Ms. Taylor 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. Taylor has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work, except that she can only occasionally stoop, crouch (if there is assistance to pull her back up) and crawl. She "can understand, remember, and carry out simple instructions, up to the level of her past relevant work at specific vocational level of three." She can "make judgments in simple work-related situations; respond appropriately with co-workers and supervisors, with occasional incidental contact that is not necessary for performance of the job; and respond appropriately to minor changes in work routine." (Tr. 15) The VE testified that the jobs available with these limitations were small production assembler, shipping receiver weigher, and price tagger. (Tr. 51)

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