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Kotlowski v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division

January 12, 2018

DAWN M. KOTLOWSKI PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCYABERRYHILL, [1] Commissioner Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. ERIN L. WIEDEMANN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Dawn M. Kotlowski, 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) under the provisions 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. § 405(g).

         Plaintiff protectively filed her current application for DIB on June 25, 2013, alleging an inability to work since October 1, 2011, due to vision loss. (Tr. 76, 146). An administrative hearing was held on October 28, 2014, at which Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified. (Tr. 27-74).

         By written decision dated July 24, 2015, the ALT found that during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an impairment or combination of impairments that were severe. (Tr. 10). Specifically, the ALT found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: left eye blindness due to optic neuritis, probable multiple sclerosis, depression, adjustment disorder and anxiety.

         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. (Tr. 11). The ALJ found Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to:

perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except the claimant cannot climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds. She must avoid concentrated exposure to hazards including no driving as part of work but she can avoid normal hazards in the workplace. She cannot perform jobs that require depth perception, field of vision or more than occasional accommodation. The claimant is able to perform work where interpersonal contact is incidental to the work performed, the complexity of tasks is learned and performed by rote with few variables and little use of judgment, and the supervision required is simple, direct and concrete.

(Tr. 12). With the help of a vocational expert, the ALJ determined Plaintiff could perform work as a housekeeper, and a price marker. (Tr. 20).

         Plaintiff then requested a review of the hearing decision by the Appeals Council, which denied that request on July 12, 2016. (Tr. 1-3). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action. (Doc. 1). This case is before the undersigned pursuant to the consent of the parties. (Doc. 6). Both parties have filed appeal briefs, and the case is now ready for decision. (Docs. 10, 11).

         This 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 Cir. 2000).

         The Court has reviewed the entire transcript and the parties' briefs. For the reasons stated in the ALJ's well-reasoned opinion and the Government's brief, the Court finds Plaintiffs arguments on appeal to be without merit and finds that the record as a whole reflects substantial evidence to support the ALJ's decision. Accordingly, the ALJ's decision is hereby summarily affirmed and Plaintiffs Complaint is dismissed with prejudice. See Sledge v. Astrue, No. 08-0089, 2008 WL 4816675 (W.D. Mo. Oct. 31, 2008) (summarily affirming ALJ's denial of disability benefits), affd, 364 Fed.Appx. 307 (8th Cir. 2010).

         IT IS SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED

---------

Notes:

[1]Nancy A. Berry hill, has been appointed to serve as acting Commissioner of Social Security, and is substituted as Defendant, pursuant to Rule 25(d)(1) of the ...


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