United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
TINA M. GRUBE PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Commissioner Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Tina M. Grube, brings this action under 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), seeking judicial review of a decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security Administration (Commissioner)
denying her claim for a period of disability, disability
insurance benefits ("DIB"), and supplemental
security income ("SSI") benefits under Titles II
and XVI of the Social Security Act (hereinafter "the
Act"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A),
1382c(a)(3)(A). 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 applications on June 24, 2013,
alleging an inability to work since July 1, 2015, due to back
and neck pain. (Tr. 10, 169, 213). In a later disability
report, Plaintiff reported she had been diagnosed with COPD
and had been hospitalized. (Tr. 246). An administrative
hearing was held on September 10, 2015, at which plaintiff
appeared with counsel and testified. (Tr. 26-59).
written decision dated on August 16, 2016, the ALJ found that
during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an impairment
or combination of impairments that were severe: degenerative
disc disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),
and degenerative joint disease. (Tr. 10-20). However, after
reviewing all of the evidence presented, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiffs impairments did not meet or equal the
severity of any impairment listed in the Listing of
Impairments found in Appendix I, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4.
(Id.). The ALJ found Plaintiff retained the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to:
[P]erform medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) and
416.967(c) except that she must avoid hazards, including
unprotected heights and moving machinery and vibrations, and
must avoid concentrated exposure to pulmonary irritants like
dusts, odors, and gases. She can freqeuently climb, balance,
craw, kneel, stoop, and crouch; frequently finger and handle
bilaterally; and occasionally reach overhead bilaterally.
(Tr. 13). With the help of the vocational expert (VE), the
ALJ determined that during the relevant time period,
Plaintiff was able to perform her past relevant work as a
dressed pountry grader and, in the alternative, would be
capable of performing work as an hand packager, warehouse
worker, or deli worker. (Tr. 18-19).
Plaintiff filed this action. (Doc. 1). This case is before
the undersigned pursuant to the consent of the parties. (Doc.
7). 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
well established that a claimant for Social Security
disability benefits has the burden of proving her disability
by establishing a physical or mental disability that has
lasted at least one year and that prevents her from engaging
in any substantial gainful activity. Pearsall v.
Massanari, 274 F.3d 1211, 1217 (8th Cir.
2001; see also 42 U.S.C. §423(d)(1)(A). The Act defines
"physical or mental impairment" as "an
impairment that results from anatomical, physiological, or
psychological abnormalities which are demonstrable by
medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic
techniques." 42 U.S.C. §§423(d)(3). A
Plaintiff must show that her disability, not simply her
impairment, has lasted for at least twelve consecutive
Commissioner's regulations require her to apply a
five-step sequential evaluation process to each claim for
disability benefits: (1) whether the claimant had engaged in
substantial gainful activity since filing her claim; (2)
whether the claimant had a severe physical and/or mental
impairment or combination of impairments; (3) whether the
impairment(s) met or equaled an impairment in the listings;
(4) whether the impairment(s) prevented the claimant from
doing past relevant work; and (5) whether the claimant was
able to perform other work in the national economy given her
age, education, and experience. See 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520. Only if the final stage is reached does the fact
finder consider the Plaintiffs age, education, and work
experience in light of her RFC. See McCoy v.
Schneider, 683 F.2d 1138, 1141-42 (8th Cir. 1982);
20C.F.R. SS404.1520, abrogated on other grounds by
Higgens v. Apfel 222 F.3d 504, 505 (8th Cir. 2000); 20
brings the present appeal claiming the ALJ erred in his
assessment of Plaintiffs credibility, residual functional
capacity (RFC), and failed to fully ...