United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Lorraine Garrity, 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 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. § 405(g).
protectively filed her current application for SSI on
February 17, 2011, alleging an inability due to cluster clots
in the lungs, Graves disease, a blood disorder, and panic
attacks. (Doc. 10, pp. 206, 238). An administrative video
hearing was held on May 1, 2012, at which Plaintiff appeared
with counsel and testified. (Doc. 10, pp. 58-77).
written decision dated June 14, 2012, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to
perform light work with limitations. (Doc. 10, pp. 83-92).
Plaintiff requested review of the unfavorable decision by the
Appeals Council. (Doc. 10, pp. 288-290). On September 5,
2013, the Appeals Council entered an order remanding the case
back to the ALJ. (Doc. 10, pp. 96-99). A supplemental
administrative video hearing was held on March 4, 2014. (Doc.
10, pp. 38-57).
written decision dated July 21, 2014, the ALJ found that
during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an impairment
or combination of impairments that were severe. (Doc. 10, p.
20). Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the following
severe impairments: panic disorder with agoraphobia,
depressive disorder NOS, chronic pleuritic chest pain from
remote pulmonary embolism, fibromyalgia, morbid obesity, and
hypothyroidism. 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. 10, p. 21).
The ALJ found Plaintiff retained the residual functional
capacity (RFC) to:
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except the
claimant is able to perform work that is limited to simple,
routine and repetitive tasks, involving only simply,
work-related decisions, with few, if any, workplace changes,
and no more than incidental contact with co-workers,
supervisors and the general public.
(Doc. 10, p. 22). With the help of a vocational expert, the
ALJ determined that Plaintiff could perform work as a price
marker, and a plastics molding machine tender. (Doc. 10, p.
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied that request on December 7,
2015. (Doc. 10, p. 5). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this
action. (Doc. 1). This case is before the undersigned
pursuant to the consent of the parties. (Doc. 6). Both
parties have filed appeal briefs, and the case is now ready
for decision. (Docs. 11, 12).
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.
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. §
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 ...