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Mross v. Berryhill

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

November 7, 2018

SANDRA MROSS 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, Sandra Mross (“Mross”), applied for disability benefits on May 27, 2015, alleging an onset date of May 8, 2015. (Tr. at 32). After conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ”) denied her application on October 17, 2016.[1](Tr. at 40). The Appeals Council denied her 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 Mross had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 8, 2015, the date she alleged she became disabled. (Tr. at 34). At Step Two, the ALJ found that Mross has the following severe impairments: disorder of the back, fibromyalgia (recent onset), obesity (morbid), and cirrhosis of the liver. Id.

         After finding that Mross's impairments did not meet or equal a listed impairment (Tr. at 35), the ALJ determined that Mross had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform the full range of light work, [3] except that: (1) she could not perform frequent stooping or crouching; (2) she could perform complex, detailed, or skilled tasks, involving multiple variables; and (3) she could exercise considerable judgment and would require little or no supervision. Id.

         The ALJ found that, based on Mross's RFC, she was able to perform past relevant work as a bank teller, accounts receivable clerk, and credit clerk.[4] (Tr. at 40). Thus, the ALJ held that Mross was not disabled. Id.

         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).

         B. Mross's Arguments on Appeal

         Mross contends that substantial evidence does not support the ALJ's decision to deny benefits. Specifically, she argues that: (1) the ALJ erred by finding that Mross's migraines were not a severe impairment; (2) the RFC exceeded her functional abilities because the ALJ did not fully develop the record pertaining to her impairments; and (3) the ...


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