United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
ERIN L. SETSER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Tina Ledford, 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 benefits (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 July 24, 2012, alleging an inability to work since
December 31, 2010, due to diabetes, fibromyalgia, carpal
tunnel syndrome, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
(COPD), obesity, knee problems, collapsed right nasal
passage, and high cholesterol. (Doc. 18, pp. 201-204, 215,
230). An administrative hearing was held on August 21, 2013,
at which Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified. (Doc.
18, pp. 35-67).
written decision dated May 16, 2014, the ALJ found that
during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an impairment
or combination of impairments that were severe- fibromyalgia,
obesity, noninsulin dependent diabetes mellitus, recurrent
sciatica/myofascial strain, chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease (COPD)/restrictive lung disease, high blood pressure,
bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, history of syncope and
major depression not otherwise specified. (Doc. 18, p. 18).
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. 18, p. 18). The ALJ found Plaintiff
retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to:
perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and
416.967(a) except that she can occasionally balance, stoop,
kneel, crouch, crawl and climb ramps and stairs. She cannot
climb ladders, ropes and scaffolds and can only occasionally
handle and finger bilaterally. The claimant must avoid
concentrated exposure to temperature extremes, humidity,
fumes, odors, dusts, gases and poor ventilation and must
avoid moderate exposure to hazards, including no driving as a
part of work. In addition, the claimant can do work that is
simple and repetitive with incidental interpersonal contact
and direct and concrete supervision.
(Doc. 18, pp. 20-21). With the help of the vocational expert
(VE), the ALJ determined that during the relevant time
period, Plaintiff would not be able to perform any past
relevant work, but there were other jobs she would be able to
perform, such as surveillance system monitor and call out
operator. (Doc. 18, pp. 27-28).
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied that request on August 5, 2015.
(Doc. 18, pp. 5-9). 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. 16, 17).
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 (8thCir. 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 (8thCir. 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 him 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. ...