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Wright v. Berryhill

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

March 22, 2018

CARRIE MARIE WRIGHT PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner for Operations, performing the duties and functions not reserved to the Commissioner of Social Security DEFENDANT

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         The following Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to United States District Judge J. Leon Holmes. 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, Carrie Marie Wright, applied for disability benefits on May 12, 2015, alleging a disability onset date of July 1, 2014. (Tr. at 20). After conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied her application. (Tr. at 34). The Appeals Council denied her request for review. (Tr. at 1). Thus, the ALJ's decision now stands as the final decision of the Commissioner.

         For the reasons stated below, this Court should reverse the ALJ's decision and remand for further review.

         II. The Commissioner's Decision:

         The ALJ found that Wright had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date of July 1, 2014. (Tr. at 22). At Step Two, the ALJ found that Wright has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease, thyroid disorder, anxiety, and depression. (Tr. at 23).

         After finding that Wright's impairments did not meet or equal a listed impairment (Tr. at 23), the ALJ determined that Wright had the residual functional capacity (“RFC') to perform the full range of sedentary work, except that: (1) she could only occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; (2) she could not do any heavy pushing or pulling; (3) she could perform simple, routine tasks with occasional changes in the routine work setting; and (4) she could have only incidental interpersonal contact with the general public, meaning a limited amount of meeting and greeting with no sales or solicitations. (Tr. at 25).

         The ALJ found that, based on Wright's RFC, she was unable to perform any past relevant work. (Tr. at 32). However, relying upon the testimony of the Vocational Expert (“VE”), the ALJ found that, based on Wright's age, education, work experience and RFC, jobs existed in significant numbers in the national economy that she could perform, including positions as a final assembler of optical goods and toy stuffer. (Tr. at 33). Thus, the ALJ concluded that Wright 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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