United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division
ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER
Maness (“Maness”) applied for social security
disability benefits with an alleged disability onset date of
July 31, 2010. (R. at 253). Maness later amended the
disability onset date to July 6, 2012. (R. at 230-31). The
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) denied benefits
to Maness after a hearing, and the Appeals Council denied
review. (R. at 1). Thus, the ALJ's decision now stands as
the final decision of the Commissioner. Maness has requested
the reasons stated below, the Court affirms the ALJ's
The Commissioner's Decision
held that Maness had the severe impairments of
osteoarthritis, breast cancer status post mastectomy,
hypertension, and depression. (R. at 192). The ALJ then
determined that, through the date last insured, Maness had
the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
perform light work except that she must be limited to work
where: interpersonal contact is incidental to the work
performed; the complexity is of one to two step tasks that
would be learned by rote with few variables and little
judgment; the supervision would be simple, direct, and
concrete; and work is limited to SVP 1 or 2 jobs that can
learned within 30 days. (R. at 195). The ALJ took testimony
from a vocational expert (“VE”) and determined
that Maness could not return to any of her past relevant
work. (R. at 199). However, the VE testified that Maness
could perform other jobs existing in significant numbers in
the national economy, such as motel cleaner or inspector. (R.
at 200). Thus, the ALJ held that Maness was not disabled. (R.
argues that the ALJ erred in failing to consider whether she
should have been considered to be in a higher age category.
She further contends that the ALJ's physical RFC
determination is not supported by substantial evidence in 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
“[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)
Maness's Age Category Argument is Without Merit
date of birth is September 22, 1959. (R. at 253). As of her
date last insured, she was approximately nine months from her
fifty-fifth birthday. (R. at 253). Maness argues that,
because this places her in a “borderline
situation” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(b), the ALJ
was bound to consider whether to use the “advanced
age” category rather than the “approaching
advanced age” category. According to Maness, if the ALJ
had used the advanced age category, she would be disabled
under Medical-Vocational Rule 202.04 or 202.06. 20 C.F.R. pt.
404, subpt. P, app. 2.
Commissioner notes, however, the Eighth Circuit has held that
eight months is “too distant” to be borderline.
Byes v. Astrue, 687 F.3d 913, 917-18 (8th Cir.
2012). Thus, Maness's age was “too distant”
from the advanced age category to be considered borderline.
Substantial Evidence Supports the ALJ's Physical RFC
also argues that, because there is no opinion from a treating
or examining physician, the ALJ impermissibly drew his own
inferences from the medical records in determining that
Maness had the RFC for light work. As a result, Maness argues