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Layne v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division

November 13, 2017

CHRISTOPHER LAYNE PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          ORDER

         I. Introduction:

         Plaintiff, Christopher Layne, applied for disability income benefits and supplemental security income benefits on June 19, 2014, alleging his disability began on May 1, 2012. (Tr. at 11). His claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. Id. After conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (“AALJ") denied Layne's application on November 4, 2015. (Tr. at 23). The Appeals Council denied his request for review. (Tr. at 1). The ALJ's decision now stands as the final decision of the Commissioner, and Layne has requested judicial review.

         For the reasons stated below, the Court[1] affirms the decision of the Commissioner.

         II. The Commissioner's Decision:

         The ALJ found that Layne had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date of May 1, 2012 (Tr. at 13). At Step Two of the five-step analysis, the ALJ found that Layne has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine and status post discectomy; obstructive sleep apnea; hypertension; obesity; generalized anxiety disorder; depression; and Haglund's deformity. (Tr. at 14).

         After finding that Layne's impairments did not meet or equal a listed impairment (Tr. at 14), the ALJ determined that Layne had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform the full range of sedentary work, except that: (1) he cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; (2) the work must not require balancing duties; (3) he can only occasionally climb ramps and stairs; (4) he can only occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; (5) he must be able to access a work station area with a cane as needed; (6) he cannot be exposed to hazards in the work place; (7) he must avoid exposure to unprotected heights; (8) the work must not require any left lower extremity foot control operation; (9) the work must not require contact with the general public; (10) interpersonal contact must be no more than incidental to the work performed; (11) the supervision required is simple, direct, and concrete; and (12) the work must be limited to SVP 1 or 2 jobs that can be learned in thirty days.[2] (Tr. at 16-17).

         Next, the ALJ found that Layne was not capable of performing any past relevant work. (Tr. at 21). At Step Five, the ALJ relied on the testimony of a Vocational Expert (“VE”) to find that, based on Layne's age, education, work experience and RFC, jobs existed in significant numbers in the national economy that he could perform at the sedentary level with the added limitations, specifically, lampshade production assembler and general office clerk (document preparer). (Tr. at 22-23). Based on that Step Five determination, the ALJ held that Layne was not disabled. Id.

         III. Discussion:

         A. Standard of Review

         The Court's function on review is to determine whether the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole and whether it is based on legal error. Miller v. Colvin, 784 F.3d 472, 477 (8th Cir. 2015); see also 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). While Asubstantial evidence" is that which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion, Asubstantial evidence on the record as a whole" requires a court to engage in a more scrutinizing analysis:

[O]ur review is more than an examination of the record for the existence of substantial evidence in support of the Commissioner's decision; we also take into account whatever in the record fairly detracts from that decision." Reversal is not warranted, however, Amerely because substantial evidence would have supported an opposite decision."

Reed v. Barnhart, 399 F.3d 917, 920 (8th Cir. 2005) (citations omitted).

         It is not the task of this Court to review the evidence and make an independent decision. Neither is it to reverse the decision of the ALJ because there is evidence in the record which contradicts his findings. The test is whether there is substantial evidence in the ...


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