United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has
been sent to Judge J. Leon Holmes. You may file written
objections to this Recommendation. If you file objections,
they must be specific and must include the factual or legal
basis for your objection.
objections must be received in the office of the Clerk within
fourteen (14) days of this Recommendation.
objections are filed, Judge Holmes can adopt this
Recommendation without independently reviewing the record. By
not objecting, you may also waive any right to appeal
questions of fact.
February 6, 2013, Shelia Ford applied for disability
benefits, alleging disability beginning February 2, 2011.
(Tr. at 10) Ms. Ford's claims were denied initially and
upon reconsideration. Id. After conducting a
hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
denied her application. (Tr. at 22) 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 Ms. Ford has requested judicial review. For
the reasons stated below, the Court should affirm the
decision of the Commissioner.
The Commissioner's Decision:
found that Ms. Ford had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the alleged onset date of February 2, 2011.
(Tr. at 12) At Step Two of the five-step analysis, the ALJ
found that Ms. Ford has the following severe impairment:
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension,
arthritis, obesity, hearing disorder, degenerative joint
disease, sleep disorder, status post left ulnar nerve
surgery, degenerative disc disease, and carpal tunnel
finding that Ms. Ford's impairments did not meet or equal
a listed impairment (Tr. at 13), the ALJ determined that Ms.
Ford had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”)
to perform sedentary work with additional limitations.
Id. She could never climb ladders, ropes, or
scaffolds, and could only occasionally climb ramps and
stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl; she was
limited to frequent use of her hands to handle and finger;
she needed the option to stand for 5 minutes after sitting
for 20 minutes throughout the workday; she would have to
avoid even moderate exposure to fumes, odors, dust, gases,
poor ventilation, and similar irritants; and she was limited
to jobs where there is no requirement of frequent verbal
communication, frequent telephone communication, or complex
verbal communication. Id.
next found that Ms. Ford was unable to perform past relevant
work. (Tr. at 21) At Step Five, the ALJ relied on the
testimony of a Vocational Expert ("VE") to find
that, based on Ms. Ford's age, education, work experience
and RFC, she was capable of performing work in the national
economy as a document preparer. (Tr. at 21-22) Based on the
determination, the ALJ held that Ms. Ford 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 “enough that a reasonable mind would find it
adequate to support he ALJ's decision.”
Id; Slusser v. Astrue, 557 F.3d 923, 925
(8th Cir. 2009)(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)).
Ford's Arguments on Appeal
Ford contends that substantial evidence does not support the
ALJ's decision to deny benefits. Her sole argument is
that the job identified by the VE (document preparer) has
been rendered obsolete by today's technology, so the Step
Five finding that she could perform work in the national
economy was error. After ...