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Childress v. Berryhill

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

January 8, 2018

CONNIE CHILDRESS PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          ORDER

         I. Introduction:

         Plaintiff, Connie Childress, applied for disability benefits on November 12, 2014, alleging her disability began on October 10, 2014. (Tr. at 70). Her claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. Id. After conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (''ALJ'') denied Childress's application. (Tr. at 79). The Appeals Council denied her request for review (Tr. at 1), thereby making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. Childress 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 Childress had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 10, 2014, her alleged onset date. (Tr. at 72). She continues to work part time as a server at Cracker Barrel, but her earnings do not meet the substantial gainful activity level. Id. At Step Two, the ALJ found that Childress has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease status post fusion, rotator cuff tear status post repair, and obesity. Id.

         After finding that Childress's impairments did not meet or equal a listed impairment (Tr. at 74), the ALJ determined that Childress has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform the full range of sedentary work, except that: (1) she must have a sit/stand option; (2) she can only occasionally stoop to reach at knee level, and can only occasionally kneel with assistance to get back up, crouch, and crawl; (3) she cannot climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; and (4) she can only occasionally reach overhead with her left arm. Id.

         The ALJ found that Childress was unable to perform any past relevant work. (Tr. at 77). Next, the ALJ relied on the testimony of a Vocational Expert (“VE”) to find that, based on Childress's age, education, work experience and RFC, jobs existed in significant numbers in the national economy that she could perform, including work as a lampshade assembler and a document preparer. (Tr. at 78).

         Accordingly, the ALJ held that Childress was not disabled. (Tr. at 79).

         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 ''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 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, ''merely 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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