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Lee v. Colvin

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

September 23, 2014

KELLY LEE, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOE J. VOLPE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Kelly Lee, 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 December 6, 2010, Ms. Lee protectively filed for DIB and SSI benefits due to fibromyalgia, arthritis in spine and right shoulder, Hepatitis C, bursitis in left hip, tendinitis in left knee and right elbow, and scoliosis. (Tr. 158) Ms. Lee's claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. At Ms. Lee's request, an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") held a hearing on November 6, 2012, where Ms. Lee appeared with her lawyer. At the hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from Ms. Lee and a vocational expert ("VE"). (Tr. 30-65)

The ALJ issued a decision on December 12, 2012, finding that Ms. Lee was not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 13-24) The Appeals Council denied Mr. Lee's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. (Tr. 1-4)

Ms. Lee, who was forty-five years old at the time of the hearing, has a high school education and past relevant work as a terrain forklift operator. (Tr. 61, 153)

II. DECISION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE[1]

The ALJ found that Ms. Lee had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 27, 2010 and she had the following severe impairments: asthma (mild), Hepatitis C (stable), mild scoliosis, tendinitis, and fibromyalgia. (Tr. 15) However, the ALJ found that Ms. Lee 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. Lee has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light, unskilled work where interpersonal contact is incidental to the work performed, the complexity of tasks is learned and performed by rote, involves few variables, requires little independent judgment, and the supervision is simple, direct, and concrete. Additionally, she cannot crouch or be around temperature extremes, humidity/wetness, fumes, odors, dusts, gases, poor ventilation, unprotected heights, or moving machinery. (Tr. 16) The VE testified that jobs available with these limitations were office helper and cashier II. (Tr. 63) Accordingly, the ALJ determined that Ms. Lee could perform a significant number of jobs existing in the national economy, and found that she 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.[3] Substantial evidence is "less than a preponderance, but sufficient for reasonable minds to find it adequate to support the decision."[4]

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 ...


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