United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
ERIN L. SETSER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Rhonda Howell, 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 supplemental security income
(“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. §
protectively filed her application for SSI on May 20, 2013.
(ECF No. 11, p. 25, 198). In her application, Plaintiff
alleges disability due to depression, arthritis, migraines,
anxiety, and Grave's Disease. (ECF No. 11, p. 202).
Plaintiff alleges an onset date of August 20, 2008. (ECF No.
11, pp. 25, 198). This application was denied initially and
again upon reconsideration. (ECF No. 11, pp. 71-99).
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied
application, and this hearing request was granted. (ECF No.
11, p. 118). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held
on June 3, 2014, in Fort Smith, Arkansas (ECF No. 11, pp.
54-70). Plaintiff was present and was represented by Nicholas
Coleman. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Jim Spragens testified at this hearing.
Id. At the time of this hearing, Plaintiff was
forty-nine (49) years old, which is defined as a
“younger person” under 20 C.F.R. §
416.963(d). (ECF No. 11, p. 59). As for her level of
education, Plaintiff completed the eighth grade. Id.
this hearing, on November 5, 2014, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for
SSI. (ECF No. 11, pp. 22-37). In this decision, the ALJ found
Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since May 20, 2013, her application date.
(ECF No. 11, p. 27, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff
had the following severe impairments: arthritis, migraines,
anxiety disorder NOS, depressive disorder NOS, and
polysubstance dependence in full-sustained remission. (ECF
No. 11, p. 27, Finding 2). 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. 11, pp. 27-29, Finding 3).
then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (ECF No. 11, pp. 29-35, Finding 4).
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. 416.967(b) except
[Plaintiff] is able to perform work where interpersonal
contact is incidental to the work performed, complexity of
tasks is learned and performed by rote with few variables and
little judgment. Supervision required is simple, direct and
then determined Plaintiff was able to perform her Past
Relevant Work (“PRW”) as a poultry sorter as
generally performed. (ECF No. 11, pp. 35-36, Finding 5). The
ALJ also determined, in the alternative, that Plaintiff could
perform the requirements of representative jobs such as a
price marker and poultry production. (ECF No. 11, p. 36,
Finding 5). The ALJ subsequently determined Plaintiff had not
been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from May 20,
2013, through November 5, 2014, the date of the ALJ's
decision. (ECF No. 11, p. 37, Finding 6).
on January 8, 2015, Plaintiff requested a review by the
Appeals Council (ECF. No. 11, pp. 19-21). The Appeals Council
denied this request on February 18, 2016. (ECF No. 11, pp.
5-10). On April 20, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present appeal
with this Court. (ECF No. 1). The parties consented to the
jurisdiction of this Court on May 18, 2016. (ECF No. 7). 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. §
1382c(a)(3)(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 ...