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Wilson v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division

March 12, 2018

TENNIE R. WILSON PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         This Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to Judge Billy Roy Wilson. 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.

         Your objections must be received in the office of the Court Clerk within 14 days of this Recommendation. If no objections are filed, Judge Wilson can adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing the record. By not objecting, you may also waive any right to appeal questions of fact.

         I. Introduction:

         On April 16, 2013, Tennie R. Wilson applied for disability benefits, alleging disability beginning April 16, 2014. (Tr. at 17) Ms. Wilson's claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. Id. After conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied her application. (Tr. at 26) The Appeals Council denied her request for review. (Tr. at 1) The ALJ's decision, therefore, now stands as the final decision of the Commissioner, and Ms. Wilson has requested judicial review.

         II. The Commissioner's Decision:

         The ALJ found that Ms. Wilson had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the application date of April 16, 2014. (Tr. at 19) At Step Two of the five-step analysis, the ALJ found that Ms. Wilson had the following severe impairments: chronic heart failure, cerebral vascular incident, late effects of cerebrovascular disease, and obesity. (Tr. at 19)

         After finding that Ms. Wilson's impairments did not meet or equal a listed impairment (Tr. at 19), the ALJ determined that Ms. Wilson had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform the full range of light work with no additional limitations. (Tr. at 20)

         The ALJ next found that Ms. Wilson was unable to perform any past relevant work. (Tr. at 24) After considering Ms. Wilson's age, education, work experience and RFC, and Medical-Vocational Rule 202.21, however, the ALJ found at Step Five that Ms. Wilson was capable of performing work in the national economy. (Tr. at 25) Based on this finding, the ALJ held that Ms. Wilson was not disabled. Id.

         III. Discussion:

         A. Standard of Review

         The 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). In reviewing the Commissioner's decision, the Court must consider not only evidence that supports the 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)).

         B. Ms. Wilson's Arguments on Appeal

         Ms. Wilson contends that substantial evidence does not support the ALJ's decision to deny benefits. Her sole argument is that the ALJ erred in finding that she had sufficiently recovered from her stroke to be able to perform light work. After reviewing the record as a whole, the Court concludes that the ALJ did not err in denying benefits.

         A claimant's RFC represents the most she can do despite the combined effects of all of his credible limitations, and an RFC determination must take into account all credible evidence. McCoy v. Astrue, 648 F.3d 605, 614 (8th Cir. 2011). In determining a claimant's RFC, the ALJ has a duty to establish, by competent medical evidence, the physical and mental activity that the claimant can perform in a work setting, after giving appropriate consideration to all of her impairments. Ostronski v. Chater, 94 F.3d 413, 418 (8th ...


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