United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division
Natarsha Singleton, initially applied for disability benefits
sometime prior to November 19, 2008, the date of her first
hearing. (Tr. at 34). That application was denied at the
hearing level and Singleton's request for review was
denied by the Appeals Council. (Tr. at 16).
filed a subsequent application for Title XIV supplemental
security income benefits on September 6, 2011, alleging an
onset date of November 15, 2006 (Tr. at
192-198). After conducting a hearing, Judge Jerry M.
Lang, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”),
denied her application on June 18, 2013. (Tr. at 95-104). He
found no mental impairment. (Tr. at 97). The Appeals Council
subsequently remanded the case for further consideration and
development of the record regarding Singleton's mental
impairments. (Tr. at 110-113).
second administrative hearing was held by Judge Lang on July
9, 2014 (Tr. at 73). On September 3, 2014, Judge Lang issued
a decision denying Singleton's claim, finding again that
she had no mental impairment. (Tr. at 14). On November 6,
2015, the Appeals Council denied Singleton's request for
review. (Tr. at 1). The ALJ's decision now stands as the
final decision of the Commissioner, and Singleton has
requested judicial review.
reasons stated below, the Court affirms the decision of the
The Commissioner's Decision:
found that Singleton had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the application date of September 6, 2011.
(Tr. at 14). At Step Two of the sequential five-step
analysis, the ALJ found that Singleton has the following
severe impairments: history of spinal tuberculosis with
T12-L1 corpectomy and fusion at ¶ 11-L3. Id.
Three, the ALJ determined that Singleton's impairments
did not meet or equal a listed impairment. Id.
Before proceeding to Step Four, the ALJ determined that
Singleton had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform the full range of work at the
light level. (Tr. at 15). The ALJ next determined that
Singleton was capable of performing past relevant work as a
customer service advisor. (Tr. at 23). Singleton's past
work was long enough in the past to raise a question of
whether it qualified as past relevant work, so the ALJ
further questioned the Vocational Expert (“VE”).
The ALJ relied on the testimony of the VE to find that, based
on Singleton's age, education, work experience and RFC,
jobs existed in significant numbers in the national economy
that she could perform. Id. Based on that
determination, the ALJ held that Singleton was not disabled.
Standard of Review
Court's role is to determine whether the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence. Prosch v. Apfel, 201 F.3d 1010, 1012 (8th
Cir. 2000). “Substantial evidence” in this
context means less than a preponderance but more than a
scintilla. Slusser v. Astrue, 557 F.3d 923, 925 (8th
Cir. 2009). In other words, it is “enough that a
reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the
ALJ's decision." Id. (citation omitted).
The Court must consider not only evidence that supports the
Commissioner's decision, but also evidence that supports
a contrary outcome. The Court cannot reverse the decision,
however, “merely because substantial evidence exists
for the opposite decision." Long v. Chater, 108
F.3d 185, 187 (8th Cir. 1997) (quoting Johnson v.
Chater, 87 F.3d 1015, 1017 (8th Cir. 1996)).
Singleton's Arguments on Appeal
contends that substantial evidence does not support the
ALJ's decision to deny benefits. She argues that the ALJ
erred by not finding her mental impairments to be severe. For
the following reasons, the Court finds that substantial
evidence supports the ALJ's decision.
to the relevant time-period beginning on September 6, 2011,
Singleton submitted to inpatient psychiatric treatment three
times. On August 19, 2010, she began a five-night stay at
Mid-South Crisis Unit, for schizoaffective disorder. (Tr. at
657-660). She had thoughts of suicide and was having
paranoid, delusional thoughts, (Tr. at ...