United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
SHARON K. RICHMOND PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,  Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Sharon K. Richmond, 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 claim for 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. § 405(g).
protectively filed her current application for SSI on
September 12, 2013, alleging an inability to work since March
8, 2012, due to spinal fractures and other injuries from a
motor vehicle accident. (Doc. 10, pp. 62, 74). An
administrative hearing was held on November 19, 2014, at
which Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified. (Doc.
10, pp. 32-60).
written opinion dated February 23, 2015, the ALJ found that
the Plaintiff had severe impairments of degenerative
disc/joint disease of the lumbar spine, depression, and
anxiety. (Doc. 10, p. 20). After reviewing the evidence in
its entirety, the ALJ determined that the Plaintiff's
impairments did not meet or equal the level of severity of
any listed impairments described in Appendix 1 of the
Regulations (20 CFR, Subpart P, Appendix 1). (Doc. 10, pp.
20-22). The ALJ found Plaintiff retained the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to perform light work as defined in
20 CFR 416.967(b) except she is limited to occasional
climbing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling, and is
limited to jobs with simple tasks and simple instructions.
(Doc. 10, pp. 22-26). With the help of a vocational expert
(VE), the ALJ determined that while Plaintiff was unable to
perform her past relevant work, she could perform work as a
merchandise marker, a photocopy machine operator, and an
office helper. (Doc. 10, pp. 27-28).
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied her request on April 15, 2016.
(Doc. 10, pp. 4-7). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action
on June 14, 2016. (Doc. 1). This case is before the
undersigned pursuant to the consent of the parties. (Doc. 6).
Both parties have submitted briefs, and the case is now ready
for decision. (Docs. 13, 14).
Court has reviewed the transcript in its entirety. The
complete set of facts and arguments are presented in the
parties' briefs and are repeated here only to the extent
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), 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 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
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. §
413.920. Only if the final stage is reached does the fact
finder consider the Plaintiff's age, education, and work
experience in light of her residual functional capacity.
See McCoy v. Schweiker, 683 F.2d 1138, 1141-42 (8th
Cir. 1982), abrogated on other grounds by Higgins v.
Apfel, 222 F.3d 504, 505 (8th Cir. 2000); 20 C.F.R.
makes the following arguments on appeal: 1) the ALJ erred in
failing to fully and fairly develop the medical record; 2)
the ALJ erred in failing to consider all of Plaintiff's
impairments in combination; 3) the ALJ erred in his analysis
and credibility findings in regard to the Plaintiff's
subjective allegations of pain; and 4) the ALJ erred in
finding that Plaintiff retains the RFC to perform a limited
range of light work. (Doc. 13, pp. 3-10).
Full and Fair ...