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Moore v. Berryhill

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

June 4, 2019

CHRISTINA MOORE PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner for Operations, performing the duties and functions not reserved to the Commissioner of Social Security DEFENDANT

          ORDER

         I. Introduction:

         Plaintiff, Christina Moore (“Moore”), applied for disability benefits on August 18, 2015, alleging disability beginning on June 30, 2015. (Tr. at 36). After conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied Moore's application. (Tr. at 50). The Appeals Council denied her request for review. (Tr. at 1). Thus, the ALJ's decision now stands as the final decision of the Commissioner.

         For the reasons stated below, the Court[1] reverses the ALJ's decision and remands for further review.

         II. The Commissioner's Decision:

         The ALJ found that Moore had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since June 30, 2015, the date she alleged she became disabled. (Tr. at 39). At Step Two, the ALJ found that Moore had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease, depression, and anxiety. Id.

         After finding that Moore's impairments did not meet or equal a listed impairment (Tr. at 39), the ALJ determined that Moore had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a full range of work at the sedentary level, except that: (1) she could only occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl; and (2) she would be limited to simple routine tasks with only superficial interpersonal contact and only occasional changes in the workplace setting. (Tr. at 42).

         The ALJ found that, based on Moore's RFC, she was unable to perform any of her past relevant work. (Tr. at 49). Relying upon the testimony of a Vocational Expert (“VE”) at Step Five, the ALJ found that, based on Moore's age, education, work experience and RFC, jobs existed in significant numbers in the national economy that she could perform, including positions as press operator and table worker. (Tr. at 50). Thus, the ALJ held that Moore 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:

A[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).

         B. Moore's Arguments on Appeal

         Moore contends that substantial evidence does not support the ALJ's decision to deny benefits. Specifically, she argues that the ALJ did not give proper weight to the opinions of Charles Davidson, M.D. (on physical impairments) and Tashina Brown, APN (on mental impairments). The ...


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