United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
TWILA F. TAYLOR PLAINTIFF
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
ERIN L. SETSER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Twila F. Taylor, 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 May 30, 2012,
alleging an inability to work since April 15, 2011, due to
arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, migraines, and polymyalgia.
(Doc. 9, pp. 167-170, 198, 202). An administrative hearing
was held on January 29, 2014, at which Plaintiff appeared
with counsel and testified. (Doc. 9, pp. 52-85).
written decision dated June 6, 2014, the ALJ found that
during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an impairment
or combination of impairments that were severe
-osteoarthritis, polymyalgia rheumatic, osteoporosis, gout,
and history of hernia surgery. (Doc. 9, p. 42). 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. 9, p. 43). The ALJ found 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. 9, p. 44). With the help of the
vocational expert (VE), the ALJ determined that during the
relevant time period, Plaintiff would be able to perform her
past relevant work as a customer service
representative/customer complaint clerk, a receptionist, and
data entry clerk/accounting clerk. (Doc. 9, p. 45).
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied that request on July 30, 2015.
(Doc. 9, pp. 4-9). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action.
(Doc. 1). This case is before the undersigned pursuant to the
consent of the parties. (Doc. 4). Both parties have filed
appeal briefs, and the case is now ready for decision. (Docs.
7, 8). The Court has reviewed the entire transcript.
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
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. Only if the final stage is reached does the fact
finder consider the Plaintiffs 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 failing to consider all of Plaintiffs
impairments in combination; 2) Whether the ALJ erred in
"her analysis and credibility findings;" 3) Whether
the ALJ erred in finding Plaintiff retained the RFC to
perform her past relevant work; and 4) Whether the ALJ erred
in finding Plaintiff retained the RFC to perform a full range
of sedentary work. (Doc. 7).
Impairments in Combination:
argues that the ALJ neglected to discuss in detail her
testimony regarding stiffness, swelling and inflammation in
the shoulders, wrists, hands, fingers, hips and knees; low
back pain; weakness in the arms, hands, legs, fingers and
hips; migraine headaches or fatigue; and failed to properly
consider Plaintiffs diagnosed chronic pain, joint pain, neck
pain, shoulder pain, bilateral foot pain, right hand pain,
fatigue, arthrosis of the DIP and PIP joints of the bilateral
fingers, severe osteoarthritis ...