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Kutach v. Berryhill

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

February 12, 2019

BRIAN R. KUTACH 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 J. Leon Holmes. 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, Brian R. Kutach (“Kutach”), applied for disability benefits on December 7, 2015, alleging disability beginning on October 12, 2011. (Tr. at 15). After conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied his application. (Tr. at 24). 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, the Commissioner's decision should be affirmed.

         II. The Commissioner's Decision

         The ALJ found that Kutach had not engaged in substantial gainful activity from the amended alleged onset date of July 19, 2014 through the date last insured of December 31, 2016.[1] (Tr. at 17). At Step Two, the ALJ found that Kutach has the following severe impairments: gouty arthropathy with some degenerative joint disease of the knees, diabetes mellitus with neuropathy, hypertension, history of pancreatitis without evidence of complication, and morbid obesity. Id.

         After finding that Kutach's impairment did not meet or equal a listed impairment (Tr. at 18), the ALJ determined that Kutach had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform the full range of light work, except that he could only occasionally climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. (Tr. at 19).

         The ALJ found that, based on his RFC, Kutach was able to perform past relevant work as a paper machine supervisor. (Tr. at 24). Thus, the ALJ found that Kutach 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).

         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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