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Williams v. Colvin

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

November 18, 2014

GLORIA WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration. Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOE J. VOLPE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Gloria Williams, 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 September 25, 2011, Ms. Williams protectively filed for benefits due to arthritis, back problems, knee problems, hip pain, joint pain and swelling, hand and finger pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome. (Tr. 166) Ms. Williams's claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. At Ms. Williams's request, an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") held a hearing on January 29, 2013, where Ms. Williams appeared with her lawyer. At the hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from Ms. Williams and a vocational expert ("VE"). (Tr. 25-59)

The ALJ issued a decision on Mach 15, 2013, finding that Ms. Williams was not disabled. (Tr. 11-20) The Appeals Council denied Ms. Williams's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. (Tr. 1-3)

Ms. Williams, who was forty-two years old at the time of the hearing, has an eighth grade education and past relevant work as cook and cook helper. (Tr. 29, 34)

II. DECISION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE[1]

The ALJ found that Ms. Williams had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since September 14, 2011, and she had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the thoracic and lumbar spine, fibromyalgia, and obesity. (Tr. 13) However, the ALJ found that Ms. Williams 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. 14)

According to the ALJ, Ms. Williams has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work, except that she can only occasionally climb, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. Her standing and walking are limited to two to four hours, and no more than a half hour at a time, and she needs a sit/stand option. She can perform an unskilled or low semi-skilled job and can understand, follow, and remember concrete instructions. (Tr. 15) The VE testified that jobs available with these limitations were assembly II, photocopy machine operator, document preparer, and surveillance monitor (which was in response to a sedentary RFC). (Tr. 56-57) Accordingly, the ALJ determined that Ms. Williams 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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