United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Dawna Farnsworth, 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 disability insurance benefits (DIB) 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 DIB and SSI
on July 19, 2012, alleging an inability since December 31,
2009,  due to back problems, neck problems,
anxiety, depression and fibromyalgia. (Doc. 10, pp. 47, 115,
314, 321). For DIB purposes, Plaintiff maintained insured
status through March 31, 2013. (Doc. 10, pp. 18, 176, 329).
An administrative video hearing was held on August 9, 2013,
at which Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified. (Doc.
10, pp. 83-105).
written decision dated September 19, 2013, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to
perform sedentary work with limitations. (Doc. 10, pp.
173-187). Plaintiff requested review of the unfavorable
decision by the Appeals Council. (Doc. 10, p. 263). On
October 3, 2014, the Appeals Council entered an order
remanding the case back to the ALJ. (Doc. 10, pp. 194-198). A
supplemental administrative video hearing was held on March
30, 2015. (Doc. 10, pp. 44-82).
written decision dated September 3, 2015, 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: degenerative disc disease; a rotator cuff
abnormality; obesity; bilateral vision loss; a urinary tract
disorder; ovarian cysts, status post postoperative; anxiety
disorder; depressive disorder; and borderline personality
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. 10, p. 21).
The ALJ found Plaintiff retained the residual functional
capacity (RFC) to:
perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and
416.967(a) except she can occasionally climb, balance, stoop,
kneel, crouch and crawl, she can occasionally reach overhead
bilaterally, and she can frequently finger/handle
bilaterally. She cannot do work requiring excellent vision
but can avoid workplace hazards and can distinguish between
shapes and colors of items such as nails, screws and bolts.
She can do simple, routine and repetitive tasks in a setting
where interpersonal contact is incidental to the work
performed. She can respond to supervision that is simple,
direct and concrete.
(Doc. 10, p. 23). With the help of a vocational expert, the
ALJ determined that Plaintiff could perform work as a fishing
reel assembler, a motor polarizer, and a cuff folder. (Doc.
10, p. 34).
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied that request on July 13, 2016.
(Doc. 10, pp. 8-11). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this
action. (Doc. 1). This case is before the undersigned
pursuant to the consent of the parties. (Doc. 7). 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), 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), 1382(3)(C). 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.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920. Only if the final stage is
reached does the fact finder consider the ...