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Pemberton v. Berryhill

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

December 4, 2018

ANGELA PEMBERTON, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

          JOE J. VOLPE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         INSTRUCTIONS

         This recommended disposition has been submitted to United States District Judge Billy Roy Wilson. The parties may file specific objections to these findings and recommendations and must provide the factual or legal basis for each objection. The objections must be filed with the Clerk no later than fourteen (14) days from the date of the findings and recommendations. A copy must be served on the opposing party. The District Judge, even in the absence of objections, may reject these proposed findings and recommendations in whole or in part.

         RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         Plaintiff, Angela Pemberton, has appealed the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration to deny her claim for disability insurance benefits. The Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) concluded Ms. Pemberton had not been under a disability within the meaning of the Social Security Act, because jobs existed in significant numbers which she could perform despite her impairments. (Tr. 11-20.)

         This review is extremely limited. A 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 to analyze whether the Plaintiff was denied benefits due to a legal error. Long v. Chater, 108 F.3d 185, 187 (8th Cir. 1997); see also, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Reynolds v. Chater, 82 F.3d 254, 257 (8th Cir. 1996).

         In assessing the substantiality of the evidence, courts must consider evidence that detracts from the Commissioner's decision as well as evidence that supports it; a court may not, however, reverse the Commissioner's decision merely because substantial evidence would have supported an opposite decision. Woolf v. Shalala, 3 F.3d 1210, 1213 (8th Cir. 1993).

         The history of the administrative proceedings and the statement of facts relevant to this decision are contained in the respective briefs and are not in serious dispute. Therefore, they will not be repeated in this opinion except as necessary. After careful review of the pleadings and evidence in the case, I find the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence and Plaintiff's Complaint should be DISMISSED.

         Ms. Pemberton is young - only thirty-eight years old at the time of the administrative hearing. (Tr. 44.) She testified she is a high school graduate and earned her “LPN degree and then on to get [her] RN degree.” (Id.) She has past work experience as a “LPN, RN, and scrub tech, surgery tech.” (Tr. 59.)

         The ALJ[1] found Ms. Pemberton has not engaged in any substantial gainful activity since February 17, 2015, the alleged onset date. (Tr. 13.) She has severe impairments, but the ALJ found that these impairments did not meet or equal one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 4, Subpart P, Appendix 1.[2] (Tr. 13-14.)

         The ALJ determined Ms. Pemberton has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a reduced range of sedentary work. (Tr. 14.) Based on this RFC, the ALJ determined Ms. Pemberton can no longer perform her past work. (Tr. 19.) He, therefore, utilized the services of a vocational expert to determine if jobs existed that Ms. Pemberton can perform despite her impairments. (Tr. 59-62.) Based on the vocational expert's testimony, the ALJ determined Ms. Pemberton can perform the jobs of document preparer and telephone quote clerk. (Tr. 20.) Accordingly, the ALJ determined Ms. Pemberton is not disabled. (Id.)

         The Appeals Council received additional evidence but denied Ms. Pemberton's request for a review of the ALJ's decision. (Tr. 1-3.) Therefore, the ALJ's decision is the final decision of the Commissioner. (Id.) Plaintiff filed the instant Complaint initiating this appeal. (Doc. No. 2.) In support of her Complaint, Ms. Pemberton argues the Commissioner's decision is not supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole. (Doc. No. 10 at 16-28.)

         Ms. Pemberton clearly suffers from some level of pain and limitation. But after carefully considering the ALJ's opinion, the medical records, and the briefs from the respective parties, I find that the ALJ's opinion is supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole.

         Ms. Pemberton argues the ALJ incorrectly determined her RFC. (Doc. No. 10 at 19-22.) Specifically, Ms. Pemberton says the ALJ's finding that she can engage in ...


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