United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
James Virgil Deshields, applied for disability benefits on
July 12, 2015, alleging a disability onset date of April 10,
2014. (Tr. at 19). The claim was denied
initially and upon reconsideration. Id. After
conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) denied Deshields' claim. (Tr. at
31-32). The Appeals Council denied his request for review.
(Tr. at 1). Thus, the ALJ's decision now stands as the
final decision of the Commissioner.
reasons stated below, the Court reverses the ALJ's decision
and remands for further review.
The Commissioner's Decision:
found that Deshields had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the alleged onset date of January 1, 2015.
(Tr. at 21). At Step Two of the five-step analysis, the ALJ
found that Deshields has the following severe impairments:
left upper extremity dysfunction with nerve palsy,
degenerative disc disease, and depression. Id.
finding that Deshields' impairments did not meet or equal
a listed impairment (Tr. at 22), the ALJ determined that
Deshields had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform work at the light level,
except that: (1) he could only occasionally stoop, kneel,
crouch, and crawl; (2) he could only use his left upper
extremity for assistance but no lifting or moving objects;
(3) he could hold paper or money; and (4) he could only
perform simple routine tasks with occasional changes in
routine settings. (Tr. at 23).
found that, based on Deshields' RFC, he was unable to
perform past relevant work. (Tr. at 27). However, relying
upon the testimony of a Vocational Expert (“VE”),
the ALJ determined that, based on Deshields' age,
education, work experience and RFC, jobs existed in
significant numbers in the national economy that he could
perform, including positions such as ticket seller and usher.
(Tr. at 28). Thus, the ALJ held that Deshields was not
disabled. (Tr. at 29).
Standard of Review
Court's function on review is to determine whether the
Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial
evidence on the record as a whole and whether it is based on
legal error. Miller v. Colvin, 784 F.3d 472, 477
(8th Cir. 2015); see also 42 U.S.C. §
405(g). While “substantial evidence” is that
which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion, “substantial evidence on the record as a
whole” requires a court to engage in a more
“[O]ur review is more than an examination of the record
for the existence of substantial evidence in support of the
Commissioner's decision; we also take into account
whatever in the record fairly detracts from that
decision.” Reversal is not warranted, however,
“merely because substantial evidence would have
supported an opposite decision.”
Reed v. Barnhart, 399 F.3d 917, 920 (8th Cir. 2005)
not the task of this Court to review the evidence and make an
independent decision. Neither is it to reverse the decision
of the ALJ because there is evidence in the record which
contradicts his findings. The test is whether there is
substantial evidence in the ...