United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division
Jessica Baldwin, applied for disability benefits on December
4, 2013, alleging an onset date of December 28, 2012. (Tr. at
15). Her claims were denied initially and upon
reconsideration. Id. After conducting a hearing, the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied
Baldwin's application. (Tr. at 28). The Appeals Council
denied her request for review. (Tr. at 1). The ALJ's
decision now stands as the final decision of the
Commissioner, and Baldwin has requested judicial review.
reasons stated below, the Court reverses the ALJ's decision
and remands for further review.
The Commissioner's Decision:
found that Baldwin had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the alleged onset date of December 28, 2012.
(Tr. at 17). At Step Two, the ALJ found that Baldwin
has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc
disease of the cervical and lumbar spine, status post
bilateral hip replacement, obesity, diabetes, depression, and
finding that Baldwin's impairments did not meet or equal
a listed impairment (Tr. at 21), the ALJ determined that
Baldwin had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform the full range of sedentary
work. (Tr. at 22). Next, the ALJ found that Baldwin was
unable to perform any past relevant work. (Tr. at 26). Based
on Baldwin's age, education, work experience, and RFC,
the ALJ relied on Rule 201.28 of the Medical-Vocational
Guidelines to find that Baldwin was not
disabled. (Tr. at 27).
Standard of Review
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 “substantial evidence” is that
which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion, “substantial evidence on the record as a
whole” requires a court to engage in a more
“[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)
Baldwin's Arguments on Appeal
argues that substantial evidence does not support the
ALJ's decision to deny benefits. She contends that the
RFC was not reflective of her limitations because she could
not engage in prolonged sitting and was limited in her
ability to reach. She also asserts that the ALJ's
credibility analysis was flawed.
claimant's RFC represents the most he can do despite the
combined effects of all of his credible limitations and must
be based on all credible evidence. McCoy v. Astrue,
648 F.3d 605, 614 (8th Cir. 2011). In determining the
claimant's [RFC], the ALJ has a duty to establish, by
competent medical evidence, the physical and mental activity
that the claimant can perform in a work setting, after giving
appropriate consideration to all of [his] impairments.
Wildman v. Astrue, 596 F.3d 959, 969 (8th Cir.
2010); Ostronski v. ...