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Organ v. Berryhill

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

November 21, 2018

JOHN T. ORGAN, III PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner for Operations, performing the duties and functions not reserved to the Commissioner of Social Security DEFENDANT

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         The following Recommended Disposition ("Recommendation") has been sent to United States District Judge Billy Roy Wilson. You may file written objections to all or part of this Recommendation. If you do so, those objections must: (1) specifically explain the factual and/or legal basis for your objections; and (2) be received by the Clerk of this Court within fourteen (14) days of this Recommendation. By not objecting, you may waive the right to appeal questions of fact.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff, John T. Organ, III ("Organ") applied for supplemental security income benefits on January 8, 2015 and for disability income benefits on January 18, 2015. (Tr. at 53). In both applications, he alleged an onset date of January 2, 2015. Id. After conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") denied Organ's applications on September 14, 2016. (Tr. at 66). 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, this Court should reverse the ALJ's decision and remand for further review.

         II. Discussion

         The ALJ found that Organ had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since January 2, 2015, the date he alleged he became disabled (Tr. at 55). At Step Two, the ALJ found that Organ had the following severe impairments: hypertension, degenerative disc disease at ¶ 2-3 and L3-4, herniated nucleus pulposus at ¶ 3-4, degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine, bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome post-surgery, morbid obesity, non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus and degenerative joint disease of the knees. Id.

         After finding that Organ's impairments did not meet or equal a listed impairment (Tr. at 56), [1]the ALJ determined that Organ had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform the full range of work at the sedentary level, except that: (1) he would not be able to perform any job requiring climbing, crawling, kneeling, crouching, or bending, and (2) he could perform jobs with simple tasks and simple instructions. Id.

         Based on Organ's RFC, the ALJ found that he was unable to perform any past relevant work. (Tr. at 64). At Step Five, the ALJ relied upon the testimony of a Vocational Expert ("VE") to find that, based on Organ's age, education, work experience and RFC, he could perform other jobs, such as inspector/checker/sorter and compact assembler. (Tr. at 65). Thus, the ALJ held that Organ was not disabled. (Tr. at 66).

         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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