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Foster v. Colvin

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

July 28, 2016

ANGIENETTE FOSTER, PLAINTIFF
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, DEFENDANT

          ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER

         Plaintiff Angienette Foster brings this action for review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“Commissioner”) denying her claim for a period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act (the “Act”). For reasons that follow, the decision of the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) is AFFIRMED.

         I. Procedural History:

         Ms. Foster filed her application for DIB on March 7, 2013. (Tr. 11) She also filed an application for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Act. (Id.) Ms. Foster alleged disability since February 28, 2013, due to fracture of the lower limbs and seizures. (Tr. 73) She was insured for DIB through the end of December 31, 2017. (Tr. 15) Her claims were denied at the initial and reconsideration levels. (Tr. 11)

         On April 10, 2014, a hearing was held before an ALJ, where Ms. Foster was represented by her attorney. (Tr. 11) On June 23, 2014, the ALJ denied Ms. Foster’s claims. (Tr. 21) On September 14, 2015, the Appeals Council denied her request for review. (Tr. 1) Ms. Foster seeks judicial review of the Commissioner’s denial of her application. The parties consented to the jurisdiction of the Magistrate Judge, and the case is ripe for decision.

         II. Decision of the Administrative Law Judge:

         The ALJ followed the required five-step sequence to determine: (1) whether the claimant was engaged in substantial gainful activity; (2) if not, whether the claimant had a severe impairment; (3) if so, whether the impairment (or combination of impairments) met or equaled a listed impairment; (4) if not, whether the impairment (or combination of impairments) prevented the claimant from performing past relevant work[1]; and (5) if so, whether the impairment (or combination of impairments) prevented the claimant from performing any other jobs available in significant numbers in the national economy. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)-(g).

         The ALJ found that Ms. Foster had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since February 28, 2013. (Tr. 15) Ms. Foster’s multiple fractures/lacerations post motor vehicle accident, right ulnar fracture, left femur fractures, right open tibia-fibula, and seizure disorder were deemed severe impairments. (Id.) According to the ALJ, Ms. Foster did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or equaled an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Id.)

         The ALJ determined that Ms. Foster retained the residual functional capacity to perform light work limited to occasional stooping, crouching, crawling, kneeling, balancing, and climbing of ramps/stairs (but no climbing of ladders/scaffolds). (Tr. 16) She was required to use a cane and avoid exposed hazards such as unprotected heights or dangerous machinery. (Id.) With the assistance of a vocational expert, the ALJ found that Ms. Foster could perform her past relevant work as a data entry clerk, an assembly line worker, and a receptionist. (Tr. 19) In the alternative, the ALJ found that, considering Ms. Foster’s age, education, work history, and residual functioning capacity, she would be able to perform other work in the economy as a cashier II, general cashier, and ticket seller. (Tr. 20) Accordingly, the ALJ found that Ms. Foster was not disabled. (Tr. 21)

         III. Analysis:

         A. Standard of Review

         In reviewing the Commissioner’s decision, this Court must determine whether there is substantial evidence in the administrative record to support the decision. Slusser v. Astrue, 557 F.3d 923, 925 (8th Cir. 2009); 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). “Substantial evidence is evidence that a reasonable mind would find adequate to support the ALJ’s conclusion.” Nicola v. Astrue, 480 F.3d 885, 886 (8th Cir. 2007). 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.” Medhaug v. Astrue, 578 F.3d 805, 813 (8th Cir. 2009)(quoting Goff v. Barnhart, 421 F.3d 785, 789 (8th Cir. 2005)).

         B. Plaintiff’s Arguments

         Ms. Foster asserts that the ALJ’s findings are not supported by substantial evidence: (1) because the ALJ failed to develop the record regarding Ms. Foster’s seizures, she erred in finding that Ms. Foster did not meet listing 11.02 or 11.03. 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1; and (2) because the ALJ’s credibility analysis was flawed. (docket entry #16 at 10, 13)

         C. Impair ...


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