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Yeatman v. Colvin

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

December 18, 2014

LISA P. YEATMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOE J. VOLPE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Lisa Yeatman, appeals the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying her claims for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act. Karl E. Osterhout, Esq., appeared by telephone for Ms. Yeatman. Special Assistant United States Attorney Una McGeehan appeared by telephone for the Commissioner. The attorneys are commended for their diligence in this matter. Although a very close call, for reasons set out below, the decision of the Commissioner is REVERSED and REMANDED.

I. BACKGROUND

On August 18, 2011, Ms. Yeatman protectively filed for benefits due to chiari malformation, chronic migraines, spinal arthritis, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, muscle pain and inflamation, nerve disorders, and bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. (Tr. 159) Ms. Yeatman's claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. At Ms. Yeatman's request, an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") held a hearing on November 5, 2012, where Ms. Yeatman appeared with her lawyer. At the hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from Ms. Yeatman, a medical expert, and a vocational expert ("VE"). (Tr. 35-65) The ALJ issued a decision on November 19, 2012, finding that Ms. Yeatman was not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 17-28) The Appeals Council denied Ms. Yeatman's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. (Tr. 1-3)

Ms. Yeatman, who was forty-nine years old at the time of the hearing, has a high school education and past relevant work as a ticket agent, baggage handler, and tool-crib attendant. (Tr. 39, 59-60)

II. DECISION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE[1]

The ALJ found that Ms. Yeatman had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since August 4, 2010, and she had the following severe impairments: hypothyroidism, migraines, mild degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, post-surgery to release chiari malformation, carpal tunnel syndrome of the right hand, depression, and anxiety. (Tr. 19) However, the ALJ found that Ms. Yeatman 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. 19)

According to the ALJ, Ms. Yeatman has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to do the full range of light work, except that she can lift and carry twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently; can occasionally perform bilateral overhead reaching; can understand, remember and carry out simply instructions; and is limited to only occasional interaction with supervisors, coworkers, and the public. (Tr. 21) The VE testified that the jobs available with these limitations were cleaner/housekeeper, garment sorter, and garment bagger. (Tr. 61-62) Accordingly, the ALJ determined that Ms. Yeatman 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 because some evidence may support the opposite conclusion."[5]

B. Ms. Yeatman's Argument for Reversal

Ms. Yeatman asserts that the Commissioner's decision should be reversed because the ALJ (1) failed to consider her migraines under Listing 11.03; and (2) failed to account for the migraines ...


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