United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division
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.
considered, 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.
April 3, 2015, Tonia Rounsavall applied for disability
benefits, alleging disability beginning September 12, 2011.
(Tr. at 14) Ms. Rounsavall's claims were denied initially
and upon reconsideration. Id. After conducting a
hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
denied her application. (Tr. at 24) Ms. Rounsavall requested
that the Appeals Council review the ALJ's decision, but
that request was denied. (Tr. at 1) Therefore, the ALJ's
decision now stands as the final decision of the
Commissioner. Ms. Rounsavall filed this case seeking judicial
review of the decision denying her benefits.
The Commissioner's Decision:
found that Ms. Rounsavall had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since the amended alleged onset date of
August 1, 2014. (Tr. at 16) At step two of the five-step
analysis, the ALJ found that Ms. Rounsavall had the following
severe impairments: fracture of right foot and left leg in
May 2016, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, obesity,
and affective disorder. Id.
finding that Ms. Rounsavall's impairments did not meet or
equal a listed impairment (Tr. at 16), the ALJ determined
that Ms. Rounsavall had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform the full range of sedentary
work, with additional limitations. (Tr. at 18) She could only
occasionally reach overhead with her left upper extremity and
only occasionally climb ramps or stairs. Id. She
could never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. Id.
She could only occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, or
crawl. Id. She could never work at unprotected
heights or around moving mechanical parts. Id. She
would be limited to simple, routine, and repetitive tasks and
could make simple work-related decisions. Id.
Supervision must be simple, direct, and complete.
Id. She could only have incidental interpersonal
contact with coworkers and the public. Id. She must
be able to use a cane to ambulate. Id.
next found that Ms. Rounsavall was unable to perform her past
relevant work. (Tr. at 23) At step five, the ALJ relied on
the testimony of a Vocational Expert ("VE") to find
that, based on Ms. Rounsavall's age, education, work
experience and RFC, she was capable of performing work in the
national economy as assembler and surveillance monitor. (Tr.
at 24) Based on the determination, the ALJ held that Ms.
Rounsavall was not disabled. Id.
Standard of Review
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.”
Slusser v. Astrue, 557 F.3d 923, 925 (8th Cir.
2009)(citation omitted). The Court must consider not only
evidence that supports the Commissioner's 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.
Rounsavall's Arguments on Appeal
Rounsavall contends that the ALJ's decision to deny
benefits is not supported by substantial evidence. She argues
that the ALJ did not give proper weight to the opinions of
Drs. Jason Brandt, Joseph Yao, and consultative examiner
Samuel Hester. After reviewing the record as a whole, the
Court concludes that the ALJ did not err in denying benefits.
Rounsavall complained of back pain and knee pain starting in
2013. An MRI of the left knee in November of 2013 showed
degeneration without evidence of a surfacing tear, as well as
bursitis and a tear of the patellofemoral ligament. (Tr. at