United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Karen Rife, 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”) benefits 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 November 14,
2013. (ECF No. II, p. 22). In her application, Plaintiff
alleges disability due to depression, diverticular disease,
irritable bowel syndrome (“IBS”), anxiety, and
chronic pain. (ECF No. 11, p. 308). Plaintiff alleges an
onset date of November 14, 2011. (ECF No. 11, pp. 22, 176).
These applications were denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (ECF No. 11, pp. 83-105).
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied
application, and this hearing request was granted. (ECF No.
11, p. 120). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held
on December 4, 2014, in Fort Smith, Arkansas (ECF No. 11, pp.
36-82). Plaintiff was present and was represented by Ann
Donovan. Id. Plaintiff, Plaintiff's cousin
Merrin Dalifut, and Vocational Expert (“VE”) John
Massy testified at this hearing. Id. At the time of
this hearing, Plaintiff was forty-eight (48) years old, which
is defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.963(c). (ECF No. 11, p. 39). As for her level of
education, Plaintiff has a high school diploma. Id.
this hearing, on February 24, 2015, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for
SSI. (ECF No. 11, pp. 19-30). In this decision, the ALJ found
Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since November 14, 2013, her application
date. (ECF No. 11, p. 24, Finding 1). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative
disc disease, gastro-intestinal disorder, and peripheral
neuropathy. (ECF No. 11, pp. 24-25, 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, p. 25, Finding 3).
then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (ECF No. 11, pp. 25-28, 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:
sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 416.967(a) except
occasional climb, balance, crawl, kneel, stoop, and crouch
and requires a cane to ambulate.
then determined Plaintiff had no Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (ECF No. 11, p. 28, Finding 5). The VE
testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue.
(ECF No. 11, pp. 76-81). 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 document preparer,
a cutter paster, and an eye glass frame polisher. (ECF No.
11, pp. 28-29, Finding 9). 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 November 14, 2013,
through February 24, 2015, the date of the ALJ's
decision. (ECF No. 11, p. 29, Finding 10).
on April 15, 2015, Plaintiff requested a review by the
Appeals Council (ECF. No. 11, p. 17). The Appeals Council
denied this request on March 18, 2016. (ECF No. 11, pp. 5-9).
On May 20, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present appeal with this
Court. (ECF No. 1). The parties consented to the jurisdiction
of this Court on June 10, 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 ...