United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
ERIN L. SETSER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Melita Dawn Bush, 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 claim for a period of disability
and disability insurance benefits (DIB) under the provisions
of Title II 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 application for DIB on June
28, 2012, alleging an inability to work since October 7,
2011, due to tardive dyskinesia and seizures. (Doc. 14, pgs.
170-172, 196, 200). Plaintiff’s date last insured is
September 30, 2016. (Doc. 14, p. 196). An administrative
hearing was held on July 18, 2013, at which Plaintiff
appeared with counsel and she, her husband, and mother
testified. (Doc. 14, pgs. 32-65).
written decision dated March 20, 2014, the ALJ found that
during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an impairment
or combination of impairments that were severe - seizures,
tardive dyskinesia, and disorder of the cervical spine. (Doc.
14, p .17). 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. (Doc. 14, p. 17).
The ALJ found Plaintiff retained the residual functional
capacity (RFC) to:
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except
she is limited to occasional balancing and climbing of ramps
and stairs. Additionally, she is unable to climb ladders or
ropes; must avoid hazards including unprotected heights and
moving machinery; and is unable to operate a motor vehicle.
(Doc. 14, p. 18). With the help of the vocational expert
(VE), the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was capable of
performing her past relevant work as an office worker/credit
card control clerk. (Doc. 14, p. 25).
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which considered additional information, and
denied that request on June 26, 2015. (Doc. 14, pgs. 5-10).
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. 12, 13).
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.