United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
CANDACE A. BURLEY PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Commissioner Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Candace A. Burley, 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 March 25, 2014,
alleging an inability to work since February 28, 2014, due to
depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), gastritis,
colitis, carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands, and a blood
clot. (Tr. 20, 235). An administrative hearing was held on
June 30, 2015, at which plaintiff appeared with counsel and
testified. (Tr. 39-55).
written decision dated July 14, 2016, the ALJ found that
during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an impairment
or combination of impairments that were severe: bilateral
carpal tunnel syndrome, status post-surgical release;
obesity; degenerative disc disease; post- traumatic stress
disorder (PTSD); anxiety disorder; affective disorder;
borderline personality disorder. (Tr. 227). However, after
reviewing all of the evidence presented, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiff's 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.
(Tr. 23-24). The ALJ found Plaintiff retained the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to:
[P]erform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b) except she is limited to frequent handling and
fingering bilaterally; and limited to performing work where
interpersonal contact is incidental to the work performed,
learned by rote, few variables, little judgment, and
supervision is simple, direct, and concrete.
(Tr. 24). With the help of a vocational expert, the ALJ found
Plaintiff would be unable to perform any of her past relevant
work but would be able perform the representative occupations
of a power screwdriver operator, or a compression molding
machine tender. (Tr. 26-27).
Plaintiff filed this action. (Doc. 1). This case is before
the undersigned pursuant to the consent of the parties. (Doc.
9). Both parties have filed appeal briefs, and the case is
now ready for decision. (Docs. 14, 15).
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
brings the present appeal claiming the ALJ's decision
must be remanded due to the submission of new and material
evidence submitted after the hearing which contradicts the
ALJ's findings regarding the severity of Plaintiff's
degenerative disc disease and his evaluation of
Plaintiff's subjective complaints. (Doc. 14, pp. 1-4).
Plaintiff also argues the Commissioner's decision must be
reversed because the ALJ failed to fully and fairly develop
the record regarding Plaintiff's physical limitations.
(Doc. 14, pp. 4-7). The Court has reviewed the entire
transcript and the parties' briefs. For the reasons
stated in the ALJ's well-reasoned opinion and in the
Government's brief, the Court finds Plaintiff's
arguments on appeal to be without merit and finds the record
as a whole reflects substantial evidence to support the