United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
ERIN L. SETSER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Brittney Miller, 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 supplemental security
income benefits (SSI) under the provisions of Title 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. §405(g).
protectively filed her current application for SSI on
September 17, 2012, alleging an inability to work since
February 19, 2012,  due to severe depression, anxiety, and
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). (Doc. 14, pp. 119-125,
144, 148). An administrative hearing was held on December 12,
2013, at which Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified.
(Doc. 14, pp. 28-40).
written decision dated December 26, 2013, the ALJ found that
during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an impairment
or combination of impairments that were severe - PTSD (post
traumatic stress disorder) and a mood disorder. (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 a full range of work at all exertional levels but
with the following nonexertional limitations: the claimant is
able to perform work limited to simple, routine and
repetitive tasks, involving only simple, work-related
decision[sic] with few, if any, workplace changes, and no
more than incidental contact with co-workers, supervisors and
the general public.
(Doc. 14, p. 19). With the help of the vocational expert
(VE), the ALJ determined that during the relevant time
period, Plaintiff would be able to perform such jobs as
janitor/industrial cleaner, hand packer, and machine packer.
(Doc. 14, p. 22).
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied that request on June 10, 2015.
(Doc. 14, pp. 4-7). 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 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.
§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.§416.920, abrogated on other grounds
by Higgins v. Apfel, 222 F.3d 504, 505 (8th Cir. 2000);
20 C.F.R. §416.920.