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Dohmen v. Berryhill

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

January 31, 2018

SANDRA R. DOHMEN PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          ORDER

         I. Introduction:

         Plaintiff, Sandra R. Dohmen, applied for disability benefits on February 28, 2014, alleging her disability began on September 30, 2008. (Tr. at 10). Her claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. Id. After conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (AALJ@) denied Dohmen's application. (Tr. at 18). The Appeals Council denied her request for review. (Tr. at 1). The ALJ's decision now stands as the final decision of the Commissioner. Dohmen 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 Dohmen had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the amended alleged onset date of July 1, 2012. (Tr. at 12). At Step Two, the ALJ found that Dohmen has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the cervical and lumbar spine, headaches status post chiari I malformation decompression, carpal tunnel disease, history of chronic bronchitis, and obesity. Id.

         After finding that Dohmen's impairments did not meet or equal a listed impairment (Tr. at 12), the ALJ determined that Dohmen has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform the full range of light work, except that: (1) she can only occasionally reach overhead; (2) she can reach and handle on a frequent basis; (3) she should avoid heavy extremes of temperature, and avoid fumes; (4) work should be indoors in a controlled climate; and (5) she can performed unskilled activities. (Tr. at 13).

         The ALJ found that Dohmen was capable of performing past relevant work as a bindery feeder (working at a magazine factory). (Tr. at 16). In making an alternative but corollary finding, the ALJ relied on the testimony of a Vocational Expert (“VE”) to find that, based on Dohmen's age, education, work experience and RFC, jobs existed in significant numbers in the national economy that she could perform, including work as a motel maid or poultry line worker. (Tr. at 17-18). Thus, the ALJ concluded that Dohmen 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 “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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