United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Charles Wayne Eldridge, 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 his claim for a period of disability
and disability insurance benefits (DIB) and his claims for
supplemental security income (SSI) benefits under the
provisions of Title II and Title XVI of the Social Security
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).
protectively filed his applications for DIB and SSI on March
24, 2014, alleging an inability to work since January 1,
2014, due to depression, fatigue, high blood pressure, and
“stress reaction.” (Tr. 237.) An administrative
hearing was held on May 20, 2015, at which Plaintiff appeared
with counsel and testified and a vocational expert (VE) also
testified. (Tr. 41-73).
written decision dated July 2, 2015, the ALJ found that
during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an impairment
or combination of impairments that were severe. Specifically,
the ALJ found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
anxiety and depression. (Tr. 13.) 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. 25). The ALJ found Plaintiff retained the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to:
perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but
with the following nonexertional limitations: the claimant is
limited to simple tasks, simple instructions, and limited
contact with the general public.
15). With the help of a vocational expert (VE), the ALJ
determined Plaintiff could perform work as a cleaner hospital
laundry aid, conveyor feeder off bearer and hand packager.
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which considered additional evidence
submitted by the Plaintiff but denied the request for review
on August 19, 2016. (Tr. 1-7). 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. 11, 12).
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
argues that the ALJ's decision is not supported by
substantial evidence because the RFC as found by the ALJ was
not the same as that presented to the VE in the hypothetical
question posed to the VE at the hearing. As stated above, the
ALJ found that the Plaintiff had the RFC to perform work
which was limited to simple tasks, simple instructions, and
limited contact with the general public. In the hypothetical
posed to the VE, the ALJ did not phrase Plaintiff's RFC
as involving limited contact with the general public, but
instead phrased it as involving only incidental contact with
co-workers. Any error by the ALJ in this regard was harmless,
as the jobs identified by the VE are all rated in the
Dictionary of Occupational Titles as “Not
Significant” for the category “People: 8 - Taking
Instructions - Helping.” DOT § § 323.687-010,
921.686-014, 920.587-018. This rating has been construed as
consistent with limitations to occasional, brief and
superficial contact with co-workers and occasional
interaction with the public. See e.g., Connor v.
Colvin, No. 1:13-cv-00219-JAW, 2014 WL 3533466, *4 (D.
Maine July 16, 2014); see also Alie v. Berryhill,
No. 4:16-cv-1353-JMB, 2017 WL 2572287, *16 (E.D. Mo. June 14,
2017); Williams v. Commission of Soc. Sec., No.
8:17-cv-32-T-JSS, 2018 WL 992827, *3-4 (M.D. Fla. Feb. 21,
2018); Call v. Commissioner of Soc. Sec., No.
1:16-cv-1003 (WBC), 2017 WL 2126809, *5 (N.D. N.Y. May 16,
Court has reviewed the entire transcript and the parties'
briefs. For the reasons stated above, in the ALJ's
well-reasoned opinion, and in the Government's brief, the
Court finds Plaintiff's 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 Plaintiff's 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), aff'd,
364 Fed.Appx. 307 (8th Cir. 2010).
Nancy A. Berryhiill has been
appointed to serve as acting Commisioner of Social Security
and is substituted as the Defendant pursuant to Rule 25(d)(1)
of the ...