United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
HONORABLE ERIN L. SETSER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Tereca Marie Murphy, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§405(g), seeking judicial review of a decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(Commissioner) denying her claims for a period of disability
and disability benefits (DIB) and supplemental security
income (SSI) under the provisions of Titles II and XVI of the
Social Security Act (Act). In this judicial review, the Court
must determine whether there is substantial evidence in the
administrative record to support the Commissioner's
decision. See 42 U.S.C. §405(g).
protectively filed her current applications for DIB and SSI
on January 7, 2013, alleging an inability to work since
December 1, 2009,  due to migraine headaches, sleep apnea,
depression, anxiety, restless leg syndrome, weak thyroid, and
weak right ankle. (Tr. 186-198, 246, 250). An administrative
hearing was held on October 22, 2013, at which Plaintiff
appeared with counsel and testified. (Tr. 31-53). However,
after reviewing all of the evidence presented, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or
equal the level of severity of any impairment listed in the
Listing of Impairments found in Appendix I, Subpart P,
Regulation No. 4. (Tr. 19). The ALJ found Plaintiff retained
the residual functional capacity (RFC) to:
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b) except she can perform simple, routine and
repetitive tasks in an environment where interpersonal
contact is incidental to the work performed. She can respond
to supervision that is simple, direct and concrete.
(Tr. 20). With the help of the vocational expert (VE), the
ALJ determined that during the relevant time period,
Plaintiff could perform such jobs as fabric layout, cutter
helper, food processing worker, conveyor line bakery worker,
spice mixer, and motel maid. (Tr. 26).
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied that request on April 3, 2015.
(Tr. 1-5). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action.
(Doc.1). This case is before the undersigned pursuant to the
consent of the parties. (Doc. 6). Both parties have filed
appeal briefs, and the case is now ready for decision. (Docs.
Court has reviewed the entire transcript. The complete set of
facts and arguments are presented in the parties' briefs,
and are repeated here only to the extent necessary.
Court's role is to determine whether the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence on the record as a whole. Ramirez v.
Barnhart, 292 F.3d 576, 583 (8th Cir. 2002).
Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance but it is
enough that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to
support the Commissioner's decision. The ALJ's
decision must be affirmed if the record contains substantial
evidence to support it. Edwards v. Barnhart, 314
F.3d 964, 966 (8th Cir. 2003). As long as there is
substantial evidence in the record that supports the
Commissioner's decision, the Court may not reverse it
simply because substantial evidence exists in the record that
would have supported a contrary outcome, or because the Court
would have decided the case differently. Haley v.
Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747 (8th Cir. 2001).
In other words, if after reviewing the record, it is possible
to draw two inconsistent positions from the evidence and one
of those positions represents the findings of the ALJ, the
decision of the ALJ must be affirmed. Young v.
Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065, 1068 (8th Cir. 2000).
well established that a claimant for Social Security
disability benefits has the burden of proving her disability
by establishing a physical or mental disability that has
lasted at least one year and that prevents her from engaging
in any substantial gainful activity. Pearsall v.
Massanari, 274 F.3d 1211, 1217 (8th Cir.
2001); see also 42 U.S.C. §423(d)(1)(A). The
Act defines "physical or mental impairment" as
"an impairment that results from anatomical,
physiological, or psychological abnormalities which are
demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory
diagnostic techniques." 42 U.S.C. §§423(d)(3).
A Plaintiff must show that her disability, not simply her
impairment, has lasted for at least twelve consecutive
Commissioner's regulations require him to apply a
five-step sequential evaluation process to each claim for
disability benefits: (1) whether the claimant had engaged in
substantial gainful activity since filing her claim; (2)
whether the claimant had a severe physical and/or mental
impairment or combination of impairments; (3) whether the
impairment(s) met or equaled an impairment in the listings;
(4) whether the impairment(s) prevented the claimant from
doing past relevant work; and (5) whether the claimant was
able to perform other work in the national economy given her
age, education, and experience. See 20 C.F.R.
§404.1520. Only if the final stage is reached does the
fact finder consider the Plaintiff's age, education, and
work experience in light of her RFC. See McCoy v.
Schneider, 683 F.2d 1138, 1141-42 (8th Cir.
1982); 20 C.F.R. §404.1520, abrogated on
other grounds by Higgins v. Apfel, 222 F.3d 504, 505
(8th Cir. 2000); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920.
raises the following issues in this matter: 1) The ALJ erred
in according "little weight" to the opinion of
Plaintiff's mental counselor; 2) Plaintiff is unable to
perform the basic mental demands of unskilled work; and 3)
The ALJ erred in failing to provide ...