United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
ERIN L. SETSER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Sherri Francis Beals, 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”) benefits 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.
protectively filed her application for DIB on March 4, 2014.
(ECF No. 8, p. 76). In her application, Plaintiff alleges
disability due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
(“COPD”), gastric bleeds, arthritis, obesity,
depression, skin cancer of the left ear, face, arm, and back,
high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. (ECF No. 8, p.
190). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of December 28, 2012.
(ECF No. 8, pp. 76, 186). This application was denied
initially and again upon reconsideration. (ECF No. 8, pp.
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied
application, and this hearing request was granted. (ECF No.
8, pp. 95, 109). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was
held on June 19, 2015, in Little Rock, Arkansas (ECF No. 8,
pp. 14-42). Plaintiff was present via teleconference and was
represented by Donald Pullen. Id. Plaintiff and
Vocational Expert (“VE”) William David Elmore
testified at this hearing. Id. At the time of this
hearing, Plaintiff was fifty-six (56) years old, which is
defined as a “person of advanced age” under 20
C.F.R. 404.1563(e). (ECF No. 15, p. 59). As for her level of
education, Plaintiff earned a GED. Id.
this hearing, on August 28, 2015, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for
DIB. (ECF No. 8, pp. 73-85). In this decision, the ALJ found
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act
through June 30, 2016. (ECF No. 8, p. 78, Finding 1). The ALJ
found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful
Activity (“SGA”) since December 28, 2012, her
alleged onset date. (ECF No. 8, p. 78, Finding 2). The ALJ
determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
bilateral knee surgery, hypertension, and COPD. (ECF No. 8,
pp. 78-79, Finding 3). Despite being severe, the ALJ
determined these impairments did not meet or medically equal
the requirements of any of the Listings of Impairments in
Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Part 404 (“Listings”).
(ECF No. 8, pp. 79-80, Finding 4).
then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (ECF No. 8, pp. 80-83, Finding 5).
First, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and found her claimed limitations were not
entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff retained the RFC to perform:
light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(b) except she is
able to perform work that involves occasional climbing,
balancing, stooping, and bending, but no crouching, kneeling,
or crawling. Additionally, she must avoid work that involves
exposure to excessive chemicals, noise, humidity, dust,
fumes, temperature extremes, vibrations, gases, or other
then determined Plaintiff was unable to perform her Past
Relevant Work (“PRW”). (ECF No. 8, pp. 83-84,
Finding 6). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had acquired
transferrable skills from her PRW. (ECF No. 8, p. 84, Finding
9). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding
these issues. (ECF No. 8, pp. 36-41). Based on
Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC, the
ALJ determined there were jobs existing in significant
numbers in the national economy Plaintiff could perform, such
as a shipping order clerk and a general office clerk. (ECF
No. 8, pp. 84-85, Finding 10). Because jobs exist in
significant numbers in the national economy which Plaintiff
can perform, the ALJ also determined Plaintiff had not been
under a disability, as defined by the Act, from December 28,
2012, through August 28, 2015, the date of the ALJ's
decision. (ECF No. 8, p. 85, Finding 11).
on September 10, 2015, Plaintiff requested a review by the
Appeals Council (ECF. No. 8, pp. 12-13). The Appeals Council
denied this request on December 16, 2015. (ECF No. 8, pp.
5-10). On February 8, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present
appeal with this Court. (ECF No. 1). The parties consented to
the jurisdiction of this Court on February 12, 2016. (ECF No.
5). This case is now ready for decision.
Court's role is to determine whether substantial evidence
supports the Commissioner's findings. Vossen v.
Astrue, 612 F.3d 1011, 1015 (8th Cir. 2010). 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. Teague v. Astrue, 638
F.3d 611, 614 (8th Cir. 2011). We must affirm the ALJ's
decision if the record contains substantial evidence to
support it. Blackburn v. Colvin, 761 F.3d 853, 858
(8th Cir. 2014). 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. Miller v. Colvin, 784 F.3d 472, 477
(8th Cir. 2015). 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, we must affirm the ALJ's decision.
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 ...