United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Northern Division
TONYA L. SANDERS PLAINTIFF
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION DEFENDANT
Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has
been sent to Judge Billy Roy Wilson. Parties may file written
objections to this Recommendation. Objections should be
specific and should include the factual or legal basis for
considered, objections must be received in the office of the
Court Clerk within 14 days of this Recommendation. If no
objections are filed, Judge Wilson can adopt this
Recommendation without independently reviewing the record. By
not objecting, parties may also waive the right to appeal
questions of fact.
30, 2015, Tonya L. Sanders applied for disability benefits,
alleging disability beginning April 30, 2015. (Tr. at 76) Her
claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration.
Id. After conducting a hearing, the Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied her application. (Tr. at
87). Ms. Sanders requested that the Appeals Council review
the ALJ's decision, but that request was denied. (Tr. at
1) Therefore, the ALJ's decision now stands as the final
decision of the Commissioner. Ms. Sanders filed this case
seeking judicial review of the decision denying his benefits.
The Commissioner's Decision:
found that Ms. Sanders had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the alleged onset date of April 30, 2015. (Tr.
at 79) At step two of the five-step analysis, the ALJ found
that Ms. Sanders had the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease, status post decompression and
discectomy, anxiety, and depression. Id.
finding that Ms. Sanders's impairments did not meet or
equal a listed impairment (Tr. at 79), the ALJ determined
that Ms. Sanders had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform the full range of work at the
light level with additional limitations. (Tr. at 81). She
could only occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl.
Id. She could occasionally work overhead and climb
stairs or ladders. Id. She could perform simple,
routine tasks and have occasional changes in the routine work
setting. Id. She could tolerate only incidental
contact with the public and coworkers. Id.
next found that Ms. Sanders was unable to perform any past
relevant work. (Tr. at 85) At step five, the ALJ relied on
the testimony of a Vocational Expert ("VE") to
find, based on Ms. Sanders's age, education, work
experience and RFC, that she could perform work in the
national economy as motel cleaner and sales attendant. (Tr.
at 87). Based on that finding, the ALJ held that Ms. Sanders
was not disabled. Id.
Standard of Review
appeal, the Court must review the Commissioner's decision
for legal error and assure that the decision is supported by
substantial evidence on the whole record. Brown v.
Colvin, 825 F.3d 936, 939 (8th Cir. 2016) (citing
Halverson v. Astrue, 600 F.3d 922, 929 (8th Cir.
2010)). Stated another way, the decision must rest on enough
evidence that “a reasonable mind would find it adequate
to support [the] conclusion.” Halverson, 600
F.3d at 929. The Court will not reverse the decision,
however, solely because there is evidence to support a
conclusion different from that reached by the Commissioner.
Pelkey v. Barnhart, 433 F.3d 575, 578 (8th Cir.
Sanders's Arguments on Appeal
Sanders contends that substantial evidence does not support
the ALJ's decision to deny benefits. She argues that the
ALJ should have ordered a physical consultative medical
examination, and because he did not, the RFC was inadequate.
After reviewing the record as a whole, the Court concludes
that the ALJ did not err in denying benefits.
Sanders suffered from back and neck pain arising from
degenerative disc disease. An MRI showed mild-to-moderate
lateral stenosis of the lumbar spine and moderately severe
foramen stenosis. (Tr. at 483) X-rays of the lumbar spine
showed mild scoliosis and moderately severe degenerative
changes. (Tr. at 484) These testing results ...