United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
CYNTHIA A. BERRY PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Cynthia A. Berry, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), seeking judicial review of a decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(Commissioner) denying her claim for a period of disability
and disability insurance benefits (DIB) under the provisions
of Title II of the Social Security Act (Act). 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.
protectively filed her application for DIB on May 18, 2009,
alleging an inability to work since December 17, 2008, due to
degenerative disc disease, deafness, inflamed fifth cranial
nerve, and depression. (Tr. 140). For DIB purposes, Plaintiff
maintained insured status through December 31, 2012. (Tr.
14). An administrative hearing was held on July 9, 2010,
where Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified. (Tr.
27-46). The ALJ issued a written opinion dated November 1,
2010, where he found that the Plaintiff had not been under a
disability within the meaning of the Social Security Act.
(Tr. 22). Plaintiff subsequently appealed the decision to the
Appeals Council, who declined to reverse the decision. (Tr.
1-5). Plaintiff appealed the decision to the United States
District Court for the Western District of Arkansas on
September 12, 2011.
November 16, 2010, Plaintiff filed a subsequent application
for DIB, which was denied by hearing decision issued on May
18, 2012. (Tr.736-745). Plaintiff appealed the decision to
the Appeals Council, and on February 8, 2013, the Appeals
Council declined review. (Tr. 757). The United States
District Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings
on January 15, 2013. (Tr. 750-756). On February 20, 2013, the
Appeals Council remanded the case back to the Administrative
Law Judge following the District Court's remand. (Tr.
18, 2013, a hearing was held at which Plaintiff appeared with
counsel and testified. (Tr. 671-691). Larry Seifert,
Vocational Expert (VE), also testified. (Tr. 691-695). In a
written opinion dated August 7, 2013, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
Musculoskeletal Disorder (back impairment), Respiratory
Disorder (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, COPD with
sleep apnea), Hearing Disorder (diminished hearing),
Neurological Disorder (headaches), Obesity, Mental Disorder
(mood disorder-depression), and Mental Disorder (mood
disorder - anxiety). (Tr. 654). However, after reviewing the
evidence in its entirety, the ALJ determined that the
Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or equal the level
of severity of any listed impairments described in Appendix 1
of the Regulations (20 CFR, Subpart P, Appendix 1). (Tr.
655). The ALJ found Plaintiff retained the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to perform sedentary work as
defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a), except as follows:
The claimant can frequently lift and/or carry less than ten
pounds and occasionally ten pounds, sit for a total of six
hours in an eight hour workday, and occasionally crouch,
kneel, and crawl. The claimant can frequently handle and
finger. The claimant must avoid constant exposure to
pulmonary irritants. The claimant is able to avoid normal
workplace hazards, but should not be exposed to loud noise
due to hearing. The claimant is able to perform work where
the supervision is simple, direct, and concrete.
(Tr. 658). With the help of VE testimony, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiff was unable to perform her past relevant work
as a customer service representative. (Tr. 662). However,
based on the Plaintiff's age, education, work experience,
and RFC, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was capable of
work as a document preparer, an addressing clerk, and a
production worker. (Tr. 663). Ultimately, the ALJ concluded
that the Plaintiff had not been under a disability within the
meaning of the Social Security Act during the relevant time
period of December 17, 2008, the alleged onset date, through
December 31, 2012, the date last insured. (Tr. 663).
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied that request on December 30,
2016. (Tr. 640-645). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this
action. (Doc. 1). This case is before the undersigned
pursuant to the consent of the parties. (Doc. 6). Both
parties have filed appeal briefs, and the case is now ready
for decision. (Docs. 16, 17).
Court's role is to determine whether the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence on the record as a whole. Ramirez v.
Barnhart, 292 F.3d 576, 583 (8th Cir. 2002). Substantial
evidence is less than a preponderance but it is enough that a
reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the
Commissioner's decision. The ALJ's decision must be
affirmed if the record contains substantial evidence to
support it. Edwards v. Barnhart, 314 F.3d 964, 966
(8th Cir. 2003). 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. Haley v. Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747
(8th Cir. 2001). 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, the decision of the ALJ must be
affirmed. Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065, 1068 (8th
Court has reviewed the entire transcript and the parties'
briefs. For the reasons stated in the ALJ's well-reasoned
opinion and the Government's brief, the Court finds
Plaintiff's arguments on appeal to be without merit and
finds that the record as a whole reflects substantial
evidence to support the ALJ's decision. Accordingly, the
ALJ's decision is hereby summarily affirmed and
Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed with prejudice.
See Sledge v. Astrue, No. 08-0089, 2008 WL 4816675
(W.D. Mo. Oct. 31, 2008) (summarily affirming ALJ's
denial of disability benefits), aff'd, 364
Fed.Appx. 307 (8th Cir. 2010).
SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED.
 Nancy A. Berryhill, has been appointed
to serve as acting Commissioner of Social Security, and is
substituted as Defendant, pursuant to Rule 25(d)(1) of the