United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
ANNA R. SKAGGS-SILEN PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Anna R. Skaggs-Silen, 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 a period of disability
and disability insurance benefits under the provision of
Title II 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 application for DIB on October
20, 2014, alleging an inability to work since May 20, 2014,
due to degenerative disc disease, fibromyalgia, irritable
bowel syndrome, crohn's disease, chronic lower back and
hip pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, insomnia, anxiety,
hypothyroidism, borderline autism, and adult ADHD. (Doc. 13,
pp. 69-70, 82). For DIB purposes, Plaintiff maintained
insured status through December 31, 2019. (Doc. 13, pp. 69,
82). An administrative hearing was held on December 14, 2015,
at which Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified. (Doc.
13, pp. 32-67).
written decision dated February 8, 2016, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff had severe impairments of chronic pain syndrome,
obesity, and anxiety. (Doc. 13, p. 17). 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. 13, pp. 18-20). The ALJ found that Plaintiff retained
the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform light work
as defined in 20 CFR § 404.1567(b), except that
Plaintiff could understand, remember, and carry out more than
simple tasks and instructions, but no complex instructions or
tasks. (Doc. 13, pp. 20-24). With the help of a vocational
expert (VE), the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was capable of
performing past relevant work as a receptionist and file
clerk. (Doc. 13, pp. 24-25).
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied that request on May 14, 2016.
(Doc. 13, pp. 1-5). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this
action. (Doc. 1). This case is before the undersigned
pursuant to the consent of the parties. (Docs. 5, 6). Both
parties have filed appeal briefs, and the case is now ready
for decision. (Docs. 14, 15).
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 his 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. §
404.1520(a)(4). 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.
argues the following issues on appeal: 1) the ALJ failed to
fully and fairly develop the record; 2) the ALJ erred in his
credibility determination; 3) the ALJ erred in giving Dr.
Daidon's Medical Source Statement little weight; and 4)
the ALJ erred in finding that Plaintiff could perform her
past relevant work. (Doc. 14).
Full and Fair ...