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Swad v. Social Security Administration

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

March 14, 2019

VINCENT FRANK SWAD PLAINTIFF
v.
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION DEFENDANT

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         The following Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to Chief United States District Judge Brian S. Miller. 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, Vincent Frank Swad, applied for disability benefits on August 26, 2014, alleging a disability onset date of May 1, 2013.[1] (Tr. at 30). The application was denied initially and upon reconsideration Id. After conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied Mr. Swad's claim. (Tr. at 40-41). The Appeals Council denied his request for review. (Tr. at 1). The ALJ's decision now stands as the final decision of the Commissioner, and Mr. Swad has requested judicial review.

         For the reasons stated below, the Court should affirm the decision of the Commissioner.

         II. The Commissioner's Decision:

         The ALJ found that Mr. Swad had not engaged in substantial gainful activity during the period from the alleged onset date through the date last insured of December 31, 2013. (Tr. at 32). At Step Two of the sequential five-step analysis, the ALJ found that Mr. Swad had the following severe impairments: plantar fasciitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, left ankle fracture status post open reduction internal fixation, osteoarthritis of the spine, peripheral neuropathy, restless legs syndrome, Dupuytren's contracture, mood disorder, and bipolar disorder. (Tr. at 33).

         The ALJ found that Mr. Swad's impairments did not meet or equal a listed impairment. Id. Before proceeding to Step Four, the ALJ determined that Mr. Swad had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform work at the light level, with some limitations. Id. He must be able to use a cane as needed to move to and from the workstation; he is limited to no balancing or climbing of ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; he could perform no more than frequent handling and could not perform foot control operations; he must not be exposed to unprotected heights or hazards in the workplace; and he would be limited to simple, routine, repetitive tasks with simple, direct, and concrete supervision (unskilled work). (Tr. at 35).

         The ALJ next found that Mr. Swad was unable to perform any past relevant work. (Tr. at 38). The ALJ relied on the testimony of a Vocational Expert ("VE") to find that, considering Mr. Swad's age, education, work experience and RFC, jobs existed in significant numbers in the national economy that he could perform, such as office helper and sales attendant. (Tr. at 40). Therefore, the ALJ found that Mr. Swad 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 record as a whole which supports the decision of the ALJ. Miller, 784 F.3d at 477. The Court has ...


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