United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division
JOE J. VOLPE, Magistrate Judge.
The following recommended disposition was prepared for U.S. District Judge J. Leon Holmes. A party to this dispute may file written objections to this recommendation. An objection must be specific and state the factual and/or legal basis for the objection. An objection to a factual finding must identify the finding and the evidence supporting the objection. Objections must be filed with the clerk of the court no later than 14 days from the date of this recommendation. The objecting party must serve the opposing party with a copy of an objection. Failing to object within 14 days waives the right to appeal questions of fact. If no objections are filed, Judge Holmes may adopt the recommended disposition without independently reviewing all of the record evidence.
Debra Lynn Wilson seeks judicial review of the denial of her second application for disability insurance benefits (DIB). Ms. Wilson worked at a school cafeteria as a cook's helper for many years. She quit her job in May 2012. Her reasons for leaving her job vary. She initially claimed she was disabled when she quit her job, but she later amended her claim to allege disability beginning the day after denial of the first application. Ms. Wilson based disability on depression, neuropathy in the feet, sleep apnea, right hip pain, and left shoulder pain.
The Commissioner's decision.
This case covers the time from November 6, 2012 to April 13, 2015 - the day of the unfavorable decision. The ALJ identified depression and anxiety as severe impairments. The ALJ determined Ms. Wilson can work at all exertional levels with nonexertional limits. After consulting with a vocational expert, the ALJ determined Ms. Wilson can do her former work as a cook's helper. Because a person who can do her past work is not disabled under social security law,  the ALJ concluded Ms. Wilson is not disabled and denied the application.
After the Appeals Council denied review,  the ALJ's decision became the Commissioner's final decision for the purpose of judicial review. Ms. Wilson filed this case to challenge the decision. This recommendation explains why substantial evidence supports the decision and why the ALJ made no legal error.
Ms. Wilson's allegations.
Ms. Wilson contends the ALJ erred by failing to consider her ability to ambulate effectively. She maintains treating-medical-provider opinions deserved more weight. For these reasons, she says substantial evidence does not support the decision.
Applicable legal principles.
When reviewing a decision denying an application for DIB, the court must determine whether substantial evidence supports the decision and whether the ALJ made a legal error. For substantial evidence to exist, a reasonable mind must accept the evidence as adequate to support the ALJ's decision. The ALJ determined anxiety and depression limit Ms. Wilson to work involving: (1) tasks learned and performed by rote, with few variables, (2) little required judgment, (3) incidental interpersonal contact, and (4) simple, direct, concrete supervision. The court must determine whether a reasonable mind will accept the evidence as adequate to show Ms. Wilson can work within these parameters. A reasonable mind will accept the evidence as adequate for the following reasons:
1. The evidence establishes no severe physical impairment.
Ms. Wilson based her claim, in part, on physical impairment: sleep apnea, right hip pain, left shoulder pain, and neuropathy in the feet. She had to establish physical impairment by medical evidence; her allegations were not enough. Ms. Wilson did not establish physical impairment because: (1) there is no evidence of sleep apnea or problems with the left shoulder, (2) diagnostic ...