United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Joyce Jones, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), seeking judicial review of a decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(Commissioner) denying her claims for period of disability
and disability insurance benefits (DIB), disabled widow's
insurance benefits (DWB) and supplemental security income
(SSI) benefits under the provisions of Titles II and XVI of
the Social Security Act (Act). In this judicial review, the
Court must determine whether there is substantial evidence in
the administrative record to support the Commissioner's
decision. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
protectively filed her current applications for DIB and SSI
on October 7, 2014, and her application for DWB on January 8,
2015, alleging an inability to work since June 12, 2014, due
to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; a trigger thumb,
right hand; and a broken finger, left hand. (Tr. 22, 101,
103). An administrative hearing was held on June 7, 2016, at
which Plaintiff appeared with counsel. (Tr. 462-487). With
respect to the DWB application, Plaintiff's prescribed
period began on February 10, 2010, the date the wage earner
died. (Tr. 106).
written decision dated September 23, 2016, the ALJ found
Plaintiff is the unmarried widow of a deceased insured worker
and attained the age of fifty. (Tr. 14). With respect to her
DWB application, the ALJ found Plaintiff's prescribed
period ended on January 31, 2015. (Tr. 15). The ALJ found
that during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an
impairment or combination of impairments that were severe.
(Tr. 15). Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the
following severe impairments: chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease (COPD), Dequervain's tenosynovitis, chronic
rhinitis, mild osteoarthritis of the cervical spine, right
carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) without mention of thenar
atrophy and right shoulder arthrosis. However, after
reviewing all of the evidence presented, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or equal the
level of severity of any impairment listed in the Listing of
Impairments found in Appendix I, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4.
(Tr. 17). The ALJ found Plaintiff retained the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to:
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b) except she is limited to occasional pushing and/or
pulling with her dominant right upper extremity and
occasional right overhead reaching; and she must avoid
concentrated exposure to fumes, odors, dusts, gases, and poor
(Tr. 17). With the help of a vocational expert, the ALJ
determined Plaintiff could perform her past relevant work as
a jewelry salesperson and weight reduction specialist. (Tr.
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied that request on November 7,
2017. (Tr. 5). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action.
(Doc. 1). This case is before the undersigned pursuant to the
consent of the parties. (Doc. 6). Both parties have filed
appeal briefs, and the case is now ready for decision. (Docs.
Court's role is to determine whether the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence on the record as a whole. Ramirez v.
Barnhart, 292 F.3d 576, 583 (8th Cir. 2002). Substantial
evidence is less than a preponderance but it is enough that a
reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the
Commissioner's decision. The ALJ's decision must be
affirmed if the record contains substantial evidence to
support it. Edwards v. Barnhart, 314 F.3d 964, 966
(8th Cir. 2003). As long as there is substantial evidence in
the record that supports the Commissioner's decision, the
Court may not reverse it simply because substantial evidence
exists in the record that would have supported a contrary
outcome, or because the Court would have decided the case
differently. Haley v. Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747
(8th Cir. 2001). In other words, if after reviewing the
record it is possible to draw two inconsistent positions from
the evidence and one of those positions represents the
findings of the ALJ, the decision of the ALJ must be
affirmed. Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065, 1068 (8th
Court has reviewed the entire transcript and the parties'
briefs. For the reasons stated in the ALJ's well-reasoned
opinion and the Government's brief, the Court finds
Plaintiff's arguments on appeal to be without merit and
finds that the record as a whole reflects substantial
evidence to support the ALJ's decision. Accordingly, the
ALJ's decision is hereby summarily affirmed and
Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed with prejudice.
See Sledge v. Astrue, No. 08-0089, 2008 WL ...