United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
MIRANDA N. COWAN PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, DEFENDANT
PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDED
VOLPE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
recommended disposition has been submitted to Chief United
States District Judge Brian S. Miller. The parties may file
specific objections to these findings and recommendations and
must provide the factual or legal basis for each objection.
The objections must be filed with the Clerk no later than
fourteen (14) days from the date of the findings and
recommendations. A copy must be served on the opposing party.
The district judge, even in the absence of objections, may
reject these proposed findings and recommendations in whole
or in part.
Miranda Cowan, has appealed the final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration to deny
her claim for disability insurance benefits. Both parties
have submitted briefs and the case is ready for a decision.
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 free of legal error.
Slusser v. Astrue, 557 F.3d 923, 925 (8th Cir.
2009); Long v. Chater, 108 F.3d 185, 187 (8th Cir.
1997); see also 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g),
1383(c)(3). Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as
a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401
(1971); Reynolds v. Chater, 82 F.3d 254, 257 (8th
assessing the substantiality of the evidence, courts must
consider evidence that detracts from the Commissioner's
decision as well as evidence that supports it; a court may
not, however, reverse the Commissioner's decision merely
because substantial evidence would have supported an opposite
decision. Sultan v. Barnhart, 368 F.3d 857, 863 (8th
Cir. 2004); Woolf v. Shalala, 3 F.3d 1210, 1213 (8th
Cir. 1993). After careful review of the pleadings and
evidence in this case, I find the Commissioner's decision
is supported by substantial evidence and recommend the
Complaint be DISMISSED.
is young - only thirty-five years old. (Tr. 89.) She has an
eleventh-grade education (id.) and past relevant
work as a nurse assistant. (Tr. 44.)
found Ms. Cowan had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since June 15, 2015 - the alleged onset date. (Tr.
38.) She has “severe” impairments in the form of
“spine disorder; migraine; affective disorder; and
anxiety disorder.” (Id.) The ALJ further found
Ms. Cowan did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments meeting or equaling an impairment listed in 20
C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 38-40.)
determined Ms. Cowan had the residual functional capacity to
perform a reduced range of light work given her physical and
mental impairments. (Tr. 40.) Given her residual functional
capacity, the ALJ determined Plaintiff could no longer
perform her past relevant work. (Tr. 43-44.) The ALJ called
upon on a vocational expert to help determine if Ms. Cowan
could perform substantial gainful activity given her residual
functional capacity. (Tr. 113-117.) Based in part on the
vocational expert's testimony, the ALJ concluded
Plaintiff could perform the jobs of content inspector,
mailroom clerk, and warehouse checker. (Tr. 44-45.)
Accordingly, the ALJ determined Ms. Cowan was not disabled.
Appeals Council received additional evidence and denied
Plaintiff's request for a review of the ALJ's
decision, making his decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. (Tr. 1-28.) Plaintiff filed the instant
Complaint initiating this appeal. (Doc. No. 2.)
support of her Complaint, Plaintiff says, inter
alia, the ALJ erred in failing to find her seizure
disorder was a “severe” impairment. (Doc. No. 11
at 5, 9-10.) Plaintiff correctly argues, “There is very
little discussion of the seizure disorder in the ALJ's
written decision.” (Id. at 9.) However, there
is also very little evidence to support Plaintiff's
argument here. A “severe” impairment is one that
significantly limits a claimant's physical or mental
ability to do basic work activities. Gwathney v.
Chater, 104 F.3d 1043, 1045 (8th Cir. 1997);
Browning v. Sullivan, 958 F.2d 817, 821 (8th Cir.
1992); 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(c) (2007). It has “more
than a minimal effect on the claimant's ability to
work.” Hudson v. Bowen, 870 F.2d at 1396;
accord, Kirby v. Astrue, 500 F.3d 705, 707 (8th Cir.
2007); Page v. Astrue, 484 F.3d 1040, 1043 (8th Cir.
(a) Non-severe impairment(s). An impairment or
combination of impairments is not severe if it does not
significantly limit your physical or mental ability to do
basic work activities.
(b) Basic work activities. When we talk about basic
work activities, we mean the abilities and aptitudes
necessary to do most ...