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Deshields v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division

September 27, 2018

JAMES VIRGIL DESHIELDS PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner for Operations, performing the duties and functions not reserved to the Commissioner of Social Security DEFENDANT

          ORDER

         I. Introduction:

         Plaintiff, James Virgil Deshields, applied for disability benefits on July 12, 2015, alleging a disability onset date of April 10, 2014.[1] (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.

         For the reasons stated below, the Court[2] reverses the ALJ's decision and remands for further review.

         II. The Commissioner's Decision:

         The ALJ 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.

         After 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).

         The ALJ 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).

         III. Discussion:

         A. Standard of Review

         The 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 scrutinizing analysis:

“[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) (citations omitted).

         It is 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 ...


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