United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
MICHCELE M. STOTLER PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Michcele M. Stotler, 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 claim for a period of disability
and disability insurance benefits (DIB) under the provisions
of Title II 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.
protectively filed her current application for DIB on July 2,
2015, alleging an inability to work since February 15, 2013,
due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bipolar
disorder, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
(Tr. 101, 117). For DIB purposes, Plaintiff maintained
insured status through September 30, 2015. (Tr. 101, 117). An
administrative hearing was held on May 27, 2016, at which
Plaintiff and a vocational expert testified. (Tr. 64-99).
written decision dated July 21, 2016, the ALJ found that
during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had severe
impairments of bipolar disorder; major depressive disorder,
recurrent, moderate; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
borderline personality disorder; methamphetamine and cannabis
abuse; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); cervical
and lumbar degenerative disc disease; obesity; hypertension;
and hypothyroidism. (Tr. 15). However, after reviewing all of
the evidence presented, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff's impairment 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. 15-17). The ALJ found that Plaintiff retained the
residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform light work as
defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b), except for the following:
Plaintiff could have occasional exposure to dust, fumes,
smoke, or chemicals; she could understand, remember, and
carry out simple and routine instructions and tasks; she was
unable to perform fast paced production requirements, so no
production rate pace work such as assemble line work; she
could only perform simple work-related decisions with few, if
any, workplace changes or changes in routine; she was limited
to jobs that involved working with the same types of things
on a day-to-day basis, rather than working with people; she
was limited to occasional interaction with co-workers and
supervisors, and she was not capable of performing jobs
involving direct interaction with the public. (Tr. 18-21).
With the help of a vocational expert (VE), the ALJ determined
that although Plaintiff was unable to perform her past
relevant work, there were jobs that existed in significant
numbers in the economy that Plaintiff could perform, such as
an apparel stock checker, an office helper, and a merchandise
marker. (Tr. 23). The ALJ concluded that the Plaintiff had
not been under a disability, as defined in the Social
Security Act, from February 15, 2013, the alleged onset date,
through September 30, 2015, the date last insured. (Tr. 23).
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which after reviewing additional medical
evidence submitted by the Plaintiff, denied that request on
September 7, 2017. (Tr. 1-7). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed
this action. (Doc. 1). This case is before the undersigned
pursuant to the consent of the parties. (Doc. 5). Both
parties have filed appeal briefs, and the case is now ready
for decision. (Docs. 12, 13).
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 4816675
(W.D. Mo. Oct. 31, 2008) (summarily affirming ALJ's
denial of disability benefits), aff'd, 364
Fed.Appx. 307 (8th Cir. 2010).
SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED
 Nancy A. Berryhill, has been appointed
to serve as acting Commissioner of Social Security, and is
substituted as Defendant, pursuant to Rule 25(d)(1) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
 With respect to the additional
evidence from the relevant time period that was submitted to
the Appeals Council, the Appeals Council made the following
determination, “We find this evidence does not show a
reasonable probability that it would change the outcome of
the decision. We did not consider and exhibit this
evidence.” The Court notes that, here, as the Court
found in Benoit v. Berryhill, although the Appeals
Council denied Plaintiff's request for review and
indicated that it did not consider or exhibit the evidence,
the Appeals Council's decision reflects that the Appeals
Council received the additional records; that it reviewed
these records; ...