United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
KELLY M. HOLT, PLAINTIFF
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting commissioner of the Social Security Administration, DEFENDANT
HONORABLE ERIN L. SETSER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Kelly M. Holt, 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.
filed her current application for DIB on March 28, 2012,
alleging an inability to work since December 31, 2010, due to
scoliosis, back pain L1 and right tibia fracture, abrasions,
numbness and burning down to the knees, low back pain from
waist down to right hip and sacrum, poor sleep, and rotator
cuff damage spurring right shoulder. (Doc. 10, pp. 115-117,
143, 146). An administrative hearing was held on December 18,
2013, at which Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified.
(Doc. 10, pp. 29-55).
written decision dated May 23, 2014, the ALJ found that
during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an impairment
or combination of impairments that were severe - residuals of
traumatic injuries, i.e., complex fracture at ¶ 1,
degenerative disc disease in her thoracic and lumbar spine,
scoliosis, right shoulder impingement, right knee fractures,
status postoperative, and obesity. (Doc. 10, p. 16). 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. 10, p. 17). The ALJ found that
Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to
perform the full range of sedentary work as defined in 20
C.F.R. § 404.1567(a). (Doc. 10, p. 17). With the help of
the vocational expert (VE), the ALJ determined that during
the relevant time period, Plaintiff would be capable of
performing her past relevant work as a telephone solicitor.
(Doc. 10, p. 21).
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which considered additional information, and
denied that request on July 29, 2015. (Doc. 10, pp. 5-8).
Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action. (Doc. 1). This
case is before the undersigned pursuant to the consent of the
parties. (Doc. 5). Both parties have filed appeal briefs, and
the case is now ready for decision. (Docs. 8, 9).
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. 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.
raises the following issues in this matter: 1) Whether the
ALJ erred in his credibility analysis; and 2) Whether the ALJ
failed to properly weigh the opinion of Plaintiff's
treating orthopedic specialist, Dr. John Park. (Doc. 8).