United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
ERIN L. SETSER MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Patricia Ruth, 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 insurance 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.
protectively filed her current applications for DIB and SSI
on August 21, 2012, alleging an inability to work since March
15, 2012,  due to degenerative disc disease. (Tr.
166-172, 198, 202). An administrative hearing was held on
October 30, 2013, at which Plaintiff appeared with counsel,
and she and her husband testified. (Tr. 30-52).
written decision dated January 31, 2014, the ALJ found that
during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an impairment
or combination of impairments that were severe –
degenerative disc disease of lumbar spine. (Tr. 14). 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. 14). The ALJ found Plaintiff retained
the residual functional capacity (RFC) to:
perform the full range of light work as defined in 20 CFR
404.1567(b) and 416.967(b), in that the claimant can
occasionally lift and carry 20 pounds and she can frequently
lift and carry 10 pounds; the claimant can stand and walk
about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday; the claimant can sit
about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday.
(Tr. 15). With the help of the vocational expert (VE), the
ALJ determined that during the relevant time period,
Plaintiff would be able to perform her past relevant work as
a fast food worker/food prep cook. (Tr. 20).
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied that request on April 25, 2015.
(Tr. 1-4). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action. (Doc.
1). This case is before the undersigned pursuant to the
consent of the parties. (Doc. 4). 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 months.
Commissioner’s regulations require her 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, 416.920. 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,
416.920, abrogated on other grounds by Higgins v.
Apfel, 222 F.3d 504, 505 (8th Cir. 2000); 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920.