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Pennington v. Berryhill

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

February 28, 2018

HARRY RUSSELL PENNINGTON PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         The following Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to United States District Judge Brian S. Miller. You may file written objections to all or part of this Recommendation. If you do so, those objections must: (1) specifically explain the factual and/or legal basis for your objections; and (2) be received by the Clerk of this Court within fourteen (14) days of this Recommendation. By not objecting, you may waive the right to appeal questions of fact.

         I. Introduction:

         Plaintiff, Harry Russell Pennington, applied for supplemental security income benefits on September 21, 2013, alleging a disability onset date of September 6, 2013 (Tr. at 34). After conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied his application. (Tr. at 46). The Appeals Council denied his request for review. (Tr. at 1). The ALJ's decision now stands as the final decision of the Commissioner. Pennington has requested judicial review.

         For the reasons stated below, the Commissioner's decision should be affirmed.

         II. The Commissioner=s Decision:

         The ALJ found that Pennington had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the application date of September 21, 2013. (Tr. at 36). At Step Two, the ALJ found that Pennington has the following severe impairments: post-history rib fracture, skull fracture (orbital fracture), and history of heel spur. Id.

         After finding that Pennington's impairment did not meet or equal a listed impairment (Tr. at 36), the ALJ determined that Pennington had the residual functional capacity (ARFC@) to perform the full range of light work, except that he would be limited to frequent stooping, crouching, bending, kneeling, crawling, and balancing. (Tr. at 37). Nonexertionally, he could perform work which is simple, routine, and repetitive, with supervision that is simple, direct, and concrete. Id.

         The ALJ found that Pennington was unable to perform past relevant work. (Tr. at 44). At Step Five, the ALJ relied on the testimony of a Vocational Expert ("VE") to find that, based on Pennington's age, education, work experience and RFC, jobs existed in significant numbers in the national economy that he could perform, specifically janitorial cleaner and cafeteria attendant. (Tr. at 45). Consequently, the ALJ found that Pennington 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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