United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
KIMBERLEY D. IAMES PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Commissioner Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
HONORABLE MARK E. FORD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Kimberley Iames, brings this action under 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), seeking judicial review of a decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security Administration (Commissioner)
denying her claim for a period of disability and disability
insurance benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the
Social Security Act (hereinafter “the Act”), 42
U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). 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).
filed her application for DIB on January 15, 2015, alleging
an onset date of July 3, 2013, due to chronic pain resulting
from neck reconstruction surgery and complete right rotator
cuff repair; nerve problems in the elbows, wrists, and right
ankle; and, depression. (ECF No. 10, pp. 71, 169-175, 188,
209-210). On October 21, 2015, the ALJ held an administrative
hearing. (ECF No. 10, pp. 34-69). Plaintiff was present and
represented by counsel.
2015, Plaintiff was 45 years old and possessed a high school
education and an Associate's Degree in Accounting and
Science. (ECF No. 10, p. 40-41). Plaintiff had past relevant
work (“PRW”) experience as a pharmacy manager and
bookkeeper. (ECF No. 10, p. 200-207, 257).
written decision dated February 10, 2016, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff's degenerative disk disease (“DDD”)
of the cervical spine; herniated nucleus pulposus C5-C6 and
C6-C7 levels, status post laminectomy/fusion surgery; status
post right rotator cuff repair; epicondylitis of the right
elbow; migraines; and, depression were severe, but did not
meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments in
Appendix 1, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4. (ECF No. 10, p. 16).
After discounting the Plaintiff's credibility, he found
that Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform sedentary work involving only
occasional overhead reaching and requiring simple tasks and
simple instructions. (ECF No. 10, p. 18). With the assistance
of a vocational expert, the ALJ determined Plaintiff could
perform work as a small product assembler, document preparer,
and escort vehicle driver. ECF No. 10, pp. 27).
Appeals Council denied the Plaintiff's request for review
on June 19, 2017. (ECF No. 10, pp. 5-10). Subsequently,
Plaintiff filed this action. (ECF No. 1). This matter is
before the undersigned for report and recommendation. Both
parties have filed appeal briefs, and the case is now ready
for decision. (ECF Nos. 15, 16).
court's role is to determine whether substantial evidence
supports the Commissioner's findings. Vossen v.
Astrue, 612 F.3d 1011, 1015 (8th Cir. 2010). Substantial
evidence is less than a preponderance but enough that a
reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the
Commissioner's decision. Teague v. Astrue, 638
F.3d 611, 614 (8th Cir. 2011). We must affirm the ALJ's
decision if the record contains substantial evidence to
support it. Blackburn v. Colvin, 761 F.3d 853, 858
(8th Cir. 2014). 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. Miller v. Colvin, 784 F.3d 472, 477
(8th Cir. 2015). 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, we must affirm the ALJ's decision.
claimant for Social Security disability benefits has the
burden of proving her disability by establishing a physical
or mental disability that has lasted at least one year and
that prevents her from engaging in any substantial gainful
activity. Pearsall v. Massanari, 274 F.3d 1211, 1217
(8th Cir. 2001); see also 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(1)(A). The Act defines “physical or mental
impairment” as “an impairment that results from
anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities
which are demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and
laboratory diagnostic techniques.” 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(3). A Plaintiff must show that her disability, not
simply her impairment, has lasted for at least twelve
Commissioner's regulations require her to apply a
five-step sequential evaluation process to each claim for
disability benefits: (1) whether the claimant has engaged in
substantial gainful activity since filing her claim; (2)
whether the claimant has a severe physical and/or mental
impairment or combination of impairments; (3) whether the
impairment(s) meet or equal an impairment in the listings;
(4) whether the impairment(s) prevent the claimant from doing
past relevant work; and, (5) whether the claimant is able to
perform other work in the national economy given her age,
education, and experience. See 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4). Only if he reaches the final stage does the
fact finder consider the Plaintiff's age, education, and
work experience in light of her residual functional capacity.
See McCoy v. Schweiker, 683 F.2d 1138, 1141-42 (8th
Cir. 1982), abrogated on other grounds by Higgins v.
Apfel, 222 F.3d 504, 505 (8th Cir. 2000); 20 C.F.R.
raises several issues on appeal, including a question as to
the supportability of the ALJ's RFC determination. The
ALJ concluded Plaintiff could perform sedentary work
involving only occasional overhead reaching and requiring
simple tasks and simple instructions. For the reasons
detailed below, the undersigned finds that this RFC does not
adequately account for all the Plaintiff's limitations.
Plaintiff suffers from numerous severe physical impairments,
including DDD of the cervical spine; herniated nucleus
pulposus at the C5-C6 and C6-C7 levels, status post fusion
surgery; shoulder pain, status post right rotator cuff
repair; epicondylitis of the right elbow; and, migraine
headaches. In fact, orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Joseph Bylak,
indicated he had operated on her right shoulder
“several times” prior to the relevant period.
(ECF No. 10, p. 531). And, the record evidences that Dr.
Christopher Arnold operated on her shoulder twice during the
relevant period. In May 2014, he repaired a torn rotator
cuff, labral tear, and torn bicep tendon in the right upper
extremity. (ECF No. 10, pp. 503-507). Despite physical
therapy and corticosteroid injections, he had to perform
arthroscopic rotator cuff revision surgery in September 2015.
(ECF No. 10, pp. 664-667). As ...