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Bolar v. Colvin

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

November 22, 2016

EDDIE BOLAR, JR. PLAINTIFF
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          ORDER

         I. Introduction:

         Plaintiff, Eddie Lee Bolar Jr. (“Bolar”), applied for disability income benefits on April 23, 2013, alleging a disability onset date of March 1, 2013. (Tr. at 38). After conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied his application. (Tr. at 48). The Appeals Council denied his request for review. (Tr. at 1). The ALJ's decision now stands as the final decision of the Commissioner, and Bolar has requested judicial review.[1]

         For the reasons stated below, the Court affirms the decision of the Commissioner.

         II. The Commissioner's Decision:

         The ALJ found that Bolar had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date of March 1, 2013. (Tr. at 40). At Step Two, the ALJ found that Bolar has the following severe impairments: depressive disorder; adjustment disorder with anxious mood; lumbar spondylosis; pain disorder associated with both medical and psychological factors; diabetes mellitus; obstructive sleep apnea; hypertension; obesity; and alcohol abuse. Id. After finding that Bolar's impairments did not meet or equal a listed impairment (Tr. at 41), the ALJ determined that Bolar had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform sedentary work with the following limitations: 1) stand or walk for about two hours in an eight-hour workday; 2) requires an option to stand after sitting more than thirty minutes (standing option lasting no more than ten minutes, to be performed within the immediate workplace area, and does not interfere with the work process); 3) occasional stooping, crouching, bending, kneeling, crawling, or balancing; 4) no exposure to unprotected heights, ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; and 5) only simple routine, repetitive tasks with supervision that is simple, direct, and concrete. (Tr. at 43).

         While the ALJ found that Bolar was not capable of performing his past relevant work (Tr. at 47), the ALJ relied on the testimony of a Vocational Expert (“VE”) to find that, based on Bolar's age, education, work experience and RFC, jobs existed in significant numbers in the national economy that he could perform at the sedentary level with added limitations, specifically, document preparer and charge account clerk. (Tr. at 48). Based on this Step Five determination, the ALJ held that Bolar was not disabled. Id.

         III. Discussion:

         A. Standard of Review

         The Court's function on review is to determine whether the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole and whether it is based on legal error. Miller v. Colvin, 784 F.3d 472, 477 (8th Cir. 2015); see also 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). While “substantial evidence” is that which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion, “substantial evidence on the record as a whole” requires a court to engage in a more scrutinizing analysis:

“[O]ur review is more than an examination of the record for the existence of substantial evidence in support of the Commissioner's decision; we also take into account whatever in the record fairly detracts from that decision.” Reversal is not warranted, however, “merely because substantial evidence would have supported an opposite decision.”

Reed v. Barnhart, 399 F.3d 917, 920 (8th Cir. 2005) (citations omitted).

         It is not the task of this Court to review the evidence and make an independent decision. Neither is it to reverse the decision of the ALJ because there is evidence in the record which contradicts his findings. The test is whether there is substantial evidence in the record as a whole which supports the decision of the ALJ. Miller, 784 F.3d at 477. The Court has reviewed the entire record, including the briefs, the ALJ's decision, and the transcript of the hearing.

         B. Bolar's Argument on Appeal

         Bolar's sole argument is that the jobs identified by the VE involve “level three reasoning, ” as defined by the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (“DOT”), [2] thereby exceeding the ALJ's RFC finding that Bolar could only perform “simple, routine, repetitive tasks with supervision that is simple, direct, and concrete.” (Tr. at 43). Thus, Bolar ...


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