United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division
JESSEY B. COOPER PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Commissioner Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Jessey B. Cooper, 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 child's insurance
benefits (CIB) as a disabled adult and supplemental security
income (SSI) benefits under the provisions of Titles II and
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 current applications for CIB and SSI
on June 13, 2013, alleging an inability to work since June
13, 2013, due to seizures. (Doc. 9, pp. 104, 200, 207). An
administrative hearing was held on July 15, 2014, at which
Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified. (Doc. 9, pp.
written decision dated November 14, 2014, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff had not attained the age of twenty-two as of the
alleged onset date. (Doc. 9, p. 60). The ALJ found that
during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an impairment
or combination of impairments that were severe. (Doc. 9, pp.
60-61). Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the
following severe impairments: epilepsy, a history of
headaches, obesity, and an affective disorder. However, after
reviewing all of the evidence presented, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or equal the
level of severity of any impairment listed in the Listing of
Impairments found in Appendix I, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4.
(Doc. 9, p. 61).
found Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity
perform a full range of work at all exertional levels;
however, she has non-exertional limitations. She must avoid
hazards such as moving machinery and unprotected heights.
Further, she is limited to simple, routine, and repetitive
tasks in settings where interpersonal contact is incidental
to the work performed. Additionally, the supervision required
must be simple, direct, and concrete.
(Doc. 9, p. 62). With the help of a vocational expert, the
ALJ determined Plaintiff could perform work as an office
clerk, a photo machine copy operator, and a hand packer.
(Doc. 9, p. 67).
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which after reviewing additional evidence
submitted by Plaintiff denied that request on February 25,
2016. (Doc. 9, p. 5). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this
action. (Doc. 1). This case is before the undersigned
pursuant to the consent of the parties. (Doc. 5). Both
parties have filed appeal briefs, and the case is now ready
for decision. (Docs. 10, 11).
Court has reviewed the entire transcript. The complete set of
facts and arguments are presented in the parties' briefs,
and are repeated here only to the extent necessary.
Court's role is to determine whether the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence on the record as a whole. Ramirez v.
Barnhart, 292 F.3d 576, 583 (8th Cir. 2002). 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. The ALJ's decision must be
affirmed if the record contains substantial evidence to
support it. Edwards v. Barnhart, 314 F.3d 964, 966
(8th Cir. 2003). 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. Haley v. Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747
(8th Cir. 2001). 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, the decision of the ALJ must be
affirmed. Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065, 1068 (8th
well-established that a 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
techniques.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(3). A Plaintiff
must show that her disability, not simply her impairment, has
lasted for at least twelve consecutive months. To establish
entitlement to CIB on the record earnings of an insured
person, a Plaintiff must prove she is 18 years of age or
older and suffers from a disability that began before she
reached 22 years of age. 42 U.S.C. § 402(d).
Commissioner's regulations require her to apply a
five-step sequential evaluation process to each claim for
disability benefits: (1) whether the claimant has engaged in
substantial gainful activity since filing her claim; (2)
whether the claimant has a severe physical and/or mental
impairment or combination of impairments; (3) whether the
impairment(s) meet or equal an impairment in the listings;
(4) whether the impairment(s) prevent the claimant from doing
past relevant work; and, (5) whether the claimant is able to
perform other work in the national economy given her age,
education, and experience. See 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920. Only if the final stage is
reached does the fact finder consider the Plaintiff's
age, education, and work experience in light of her ...