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Stone v. Berryhill

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

March 2, 2018

MICHAEL D. STONE 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, Michael D. Stone, applied for disability benefits on January 31, 2014, alleging a disability onset date of January 30, 2013. (Tr. at 75). After conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied his application. (Tr. at 84). The Appeals Council denied his request for review. (Tr. at 1). The ALJ's decision now stands as the final decision of the Commissioner. Stone 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 Stone had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date of January 30, 2013. (Tr. at 77). At Step Two, the ALJ found that Stone has the following severe impairment: intellectual disability. (Tr. at 78).

         After finding that Stone's impairment did not meet or equal a listed impairment (Tr. at 79), the ALJ determined that Stone had the residual functional capacity (''RFC'') to perform the full range of work at all exertional levels, except that he would be limited to simple, routine, and repetitive tasks in a setting where interpersonal contact is incidental to the work performed. (Tr. at 80). Additionally, he would be limited to work where the supervision is simple, direct, and concrete. Id.

         Based on Stone's age, education, work experience, and RFC, the ALJ found that Stone was capable of performing past relevant work as a laborer. (Tr. at 83). Consequently, the ALJ found that Stone was not disabled. (Tr. at 84).

         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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