United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Northern Division
following Recommended Disposition
(“Recommendation”) has been sent to Judge James
M. Moody Jr. Either party may file written objections with
the Clerk of Court. Objections should be specific and should
include the factual or legal basis for the objection. To be
considered objections must be received by the Clerk within 14
days of this Recommendation's filing. By not objecting,
the right to appeal questions of fact may be jeopardized.
And, if no objections are filed, Judge Moody can adopt this
Recommendation without independently reviewing the record.
Goodman applied for social security disability benefits with
an alleged onset date of August 6, 2015. (R. at 51). After a
hearing, the administrative law judge (ALJ) denied Ms.
Goodman's applications. (R. at 24). The Appeals Council
denied her request for review. (R. at 1). The ALJ's
decision now stands as the Commissioner's final decision.
Ms. Goodman filed this lawsuit seeking judicial review.
The Commissioner's Decision
found that Ms. Goodman had attempted to work after the
alleged onset of disability, but that it was an unsuccessful
work attempt. (R. at 14). The ALJ found that Ms. Goodman had
the following severe impairments: chronic obstructive
pulmonary disorder (COPD), asthma, osteoarthritis, carpal
tunnel syndrome, and obesity. (R. at 14).
found that Ms. Goodman had the residual functional capacity
(RFC) to perform light work and could occasionally stoop,
kneel, crouch, and crawl; occasionally reach overhead with
the right upper extremity; frequently, but not constantly,
use the bilateral upper extremities to finger and feel; and
should not have concentrated exposure to temperature
extremes, dust, fumes, humidity, or other pulmonary
irritants. (R. at 16). The ALJ took testimony from a
vocational expert (VE), who testified that the assigned RFC
would allow Ms. Goodman to return to her past relevant work
as social service worker as the job is generally performed.
(R. 20-21). The ALJ held, therefore, that Ms. Goodman was not
disabled. (R. at 21).
Goodman argues that the ALJ's credibility determination
is flawed because the ALJ did not properly consider the
Polaski factors, failed to identify any
inconsistencies that would detract from her credibility, and
improperly discredited her subjective complaints based on the
medical evidence alone.
task of the Court is to determine whether substantial
evidence supports the Commissioner's findings. 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 the ALJ's decision.” Slusser v.
Astrue, 557 F.3d 923, 925 (8th Cir. 2009) (citation
omitted). In performing this analysis, the Court must look
not only at the evidence supporting the Commissioner's
findings, but also, evidence that detracts from the decision.
Milam v. Colvin, 794 F.3d 978, 983 (8th Cir. 2015).
generally defer to the ALJ's credibility determination.
Even so, that determination must be supported by good reason
and substantial evidence. Milam, 794 F.3d at 984. In
assessing the subjective complaints of a plaintiff, the ALJ
is to consider such matters as the plaintiff's daily
activities; the duration, frequency, and intensity of pain;
any precipitating and aggravating factors; the dosage,
effectiveness, and side effects of any medication; treatment
other than medication; and functional restrictions.
Polaski v. Heckler, 739 F.2d 1320, 1322 (8th Cir.
1984). This does not require a methodical discussion of each
factor, as long as the ALJ acknowledges and examines these
considerations in assessing the claimant's subjective
complaints. Steed v. Astrue, 524 F.3d 872, 876 (8th
Goodman argues that the ALJ gave no proper consideration to
her work history. The ALJ wrote that, “[c]onsideration
was also given to all the evidence related to the
claimant's prior work history.” There is no further
discussion of Ms. Goodman's long work history, which
stretched over twenty years. (R. at 156).
Commissioner argues that the ALJ's single statement is
sufficient. Were the rest of the credibility factors properly
considered, this single sentence might satisfy the
requirement to consider all the credibility factors. Here,
however, there are other flaws with the ALJ's credibility
determination. Not only did the ALJ fail to discuss Ms.
Goodman's work history, but when this is considered
alongside the other inadequacies, Ms. Goodman has overcome
any presumption that the ALJ properly considered her work
history with this boilerplate statement.
Goodman also contends that the ALJ improperly considered her
daily activities, which the ALJ noted include “eating
breakfast with her husband, watching television, reading,
using a computer, and visiting family.” (R. at 18). The
fact that a claimant “tries to maintain her home and
does her best to engage in ordinary life activities is not
inconsistent with her complaints of pain.” Draper
v. Barnhart, 425 F.3d 1127, 1131 (8th Cir. 2005).
“The test is whether the claimant has ‘the
ability to perform the requisite physical acts day in and day
out, in the sometimes competitive and stressful conditions in
which real people work in the real world.'”
Id. (quoting McCoy v. Schweiker, 683 F.2d
1138, 1147 (8th Cir. 1982) (en ...