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Mixon v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division

March 8, 2017

MARCUS MIXON PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         The following Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to United States District Judge Susan Webber Wright. You may file written objections to all or part of this Recommendation. If you do so, those objections must: (1) specifically explain the factual and/or legal basis for your objection; and (2) be received by the Clerk of this Court within fourteen (14) days of this Recommendation. By not objecting, you may waive the right to appeal questions of fact.

         I. Introduction:

         Plaintiff, Marcus Mixon, applied for disability insurance benefits on January 29, 2013, alleging an onset date of July 1, 2008. (Tr. at 14). After conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied his application. (Tr. at 24). The Appeals Council denied Mr. Mixon's request for review. (Tr. at 1). The ALJ's decision now stands as the final decision of the Commissioner, and Mr. Mixon has requested judicial review.

         For the reasons stated below, the Court should affirm the decision of the Commissioner.

         II. The Commissioner's Decision:

         The ALJ found that Mr. Mixon had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the application date of January 29, 2013. (Tr. at 16). The ALJ found at Step Two that Mr. Mixon had the following severe impairments: polymyositis, [1] degenerative disc disease, degenerative joint disease, prostate disorder, and obesity. (Tr. at 16). At Step Three, the ALJ determined that Mr. Mixon's impairment did not meet or equal a listed impairment. Id.

         Before proceeding to Step Four, the ALJ determined that Mr. Mixon had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform sedentary work except for the following limitations: 1) he should never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; 2) he could only occasionally climb ramps or stairs; 3) he could only occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl; and 4) he should have the option to sit or stand at will. (Tr. at 17). Next, the ALJ found that Mr. Mixon is unable to perform past relevant work. (Tr. at 23). Evaluating testimony from the Vocational Expert (“VE”), the ALJ held that based on Mr. Mixon's age, education, work experience, and RFC, jobs existed in significant numbers in the national economy that he could perform. (Tr. at 23-24). Consequently, the ALJ found that Mr. Mixon was not disabled. (Tr. at 24).

         III. Discussion:

         A. Standard of Review

         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 scrutinizing analysis:

“[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) (citations omitted).

         It is not the task of this Court to review the evidence and make an independent decision. Neither is it to reverse the decision of the ALJ because there is evidence in the record which contradicts his findings. The test is whether there is substantial evidence in the record as a whole which supports the decision of the ALJ. Miller, 784 F.3d at 477. The Court has ...


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