United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
MELINDA D. HANKINS PLAINTIFF
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION DEFENDANT
Procedures for filing Objections:
Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has
been sent to District 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.
objections must be received in the office of the United
States District Court Clerk within fourteen (14) days of this
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.
Melinda D. Hankins, applied for disability benefits on
September 17, 2013, alleging a disability onset date of
January 1, 2009. (Tr. at 19). Her date last insured was June
30, 2012, so the relevant time-period for review ends on that
date. Id. After conducting a hearing, the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied
Hankins's application. (Tr. at 27). The Appeals Council
denied her request for review. (Tr. at 1). The ALJ's
decision now stands as the final decision of the
Commissioner, and Hankins has requested judicial review.
reasons stated below, this Court should affirm the decision
of the Commissioner.
The Commissioner's Decision:
found that Hankins had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the alleged onset date through her date last
insured. (Tr. at 21). The ALJ found, at Step Two of the
sequential five-step analysis, that Hankins had the following
medically determinable impairments: affective disorder,
anxiety disorder, arthritis, sinusitis/cough,
gastroesophageal reflux, and obesity. Id. The ALJ
determined at Step Two that none of these impairments were
severe, and therefore, held that Hankins was not disabled.
(Tr. at 21-27).
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 less than a preponderance but more than a
scintilla. Slusser v. Astrue, 557 F.3d 923, 925 (8th
Cir. 2009). In other words, it is “enough that a
reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the
ALJ's decision." Id. (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. 1997) (quoting Johnson v.
Chater, 87 F.3d 1015, 1017 (8th Cir. 1996)).
Hankins's Arguments on Appeal
argues that substantial evidence does not support the
ALJ's decision to deny benefits. She contends that the
ALJ failed to fully develop the record and that he should
have found Hankins's mental impairments to be severe,
notwithstanding Hankins's positive response to treatment.
For the ...