United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division
PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION
JOE J. VOLPE, Magistrate Judge.
This recommended disposition has been submitted to United States District Judge Billy Roy Wilson. The parties may file specific objections to these findings and recommendations and must provide the factual or legal basis for each objection. The objections must be filed with the Clerk no later than fourteen (14) days from the date of the findings and recommendations. A copy must be served on the opposing party. The District Judge, even in the absence of objections, may reject these proposed findings and recommendations in whole or in part.
Plaintiff, Mary Moore, has appealed the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration to deny her claim for disability insurance benefits. Both parties have submitted briefs and the case is ready for decision. After carefully considering the record as a whole, for the following reasons, I find the decision of the Commissioner is supported by substantial evidence.
A court's function on review is to determine whether the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole and free of legal error. Slusser v. Astrue, 557 F.3d 923, 925 (8th Cir. 2009); Long v. Chater, 108 F.3d 185, 187 (8th Cir. 1997); see also 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3). Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Reynolds v. Chater, 82 F.3d 254, 257 (8th Cir. 1996).
In assessing the substantiality of the evidence, courts must consider evidence that detracts from the Commissioner's decision as well as evidence that supports it; a court may not, however, reverse the Commissioner's decision merely because substantial evidence would have supported an opposite decision. Sultan v. Barnhart, 368 F.3d 857, 863 (8th Cir. 2004); Woolf v. Shalala, 3 F.3d 1210, 1213 (8th Cir. 1993).
Plaintiff was sixty years old at the time of the hearing. (Tr. 44) She testified she earned a general equivalence degree and received some college credits. (Tr. 45) She has past relevant work as a small products assembler and cleaner. (Tr. 81-82)
Plaintiff alleged she was disabled due to depression, anxiety attacks, inability to concentrate, thyroid problems, and high blood pressure. (Tr. 88) The ALJ found Ms. Moore had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since June 30, 2011. (Tr. 26) He found she has "severe" impairments in the form of fibromyalgia, headaches, hypertension, a thyroid disorder, depression, and obesity. ( Id. ) The ALJ further found Ms. Moore 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. (Tr. 27)
The ALJ determined Ms. Moore had the residual functional capacity to perform a reduced range of light work. (Tr. 28) So, with the aid of a vocational expert, the ALJ determined Ms. Moore could perform her past relevant work as a small products assembler. (Tr. 34, 83-84) Accordingly, the ALJ determined Ms. Moore could perform her past work, and concluded she was not disabled.
On March 6, 2015, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for a review of the ALJ's decision, making his decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-3) Plaintiff filed the instant Complaint initiating this appeal. (Doc. No. 1)
In support of her Complaint, Plaintiff disagrees with the ALJ's credibility and residual functional capacity assessments. (Pl.'s Br. 5-9) The residual functional capacity assessment is largely based on the ALJ's credibility assessment. (Tr. 29-34) Understandably, Plaintiff argues this assessment was flawed.
The ALJ considered Plaintiff's subjective complaints in light of Social Security Ruling 96-7p. (Tr. 29) That ruling tracks Polaski v. Heckler, 739 F.2d 1320 (8th Cir. 1984), which states:
The absence of an objective medical basis which supports the degree of severity of subjective complaints alleged is just one factor to be considered in evaluating the credibility of the testimony and complaints. The adjudicator must give full consideration to all of the evidence presented relating to subjective complaints, including the claimant's prior work record, and ...