United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Northern Division
January 11, 2016, Janet Parrish applied for disability
benefits, alleging disability beginning on December 24, 2011.
(Tr. at 16) Ms. Parrish's claims were denied initially
and upon reconsideration. Id. After conducting a
hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (AALJ@) denied Ms.
Parrish's application. (Tr. at 31) Ms. Parrish requested
that the Appeals Council review the ALJ's decision, but
that request was denied. (Tr. at 1) Therefore, the ALJ's
decision stands as the Commissioner's final decision. Ms.
Parrish filed this case seeking judicial review of the
decision denying her benefits.
The Commissioner=s Decision:
found that Ms. Parrish had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the alleged onset date, December 24,
2011. (Tr. at 43) At step two of the five-step
analysis, the ALJ found that Ms. Parrish had the following
severe impairments: degenerative disc disease (DDD),
fibromyalgia, history of cannabis abuse, bipolar disorder,
anxiety disorder, history of asthma, and panic disorder
without agoraphobia. Id.
finding that Ms. Parrish's impairments did not meet or
equal a listed impairment (Tr. at 19-20), the ALJ determined
that Ms. Parrish had the residual functional capacity (RFC)
to perform work at the light exertional level, with some
additional limitations. (Tr. at 21) She could perform simple,
routine, and repetitive work where the supervision required
is simple, direct, and concrete. Id. She could have
frequent contact with co-workers and supervisors, but no more
than occasional contact with the public. Id.
found that Ms. Parrish was able to perform her past relevant
work as a cashier. (Tr. at 29-30) The ALJ made an alternative
finding at step five. He relied on the testimony of a
Vocational Expert (VE) to find, based on age, education, work
experience and RFC, that Ms. Parrish could perform work in
the national economy as housekeeper and document machine
feeder. (Tr. at 31) The ALJ determined, therefore, that Ms.
Parrish was not disabled. Id.
Standard of Review
appeal, the Court must review the Commissioner's decision
for legal error and assure that the decision is supported by
substantial evidence on the record as a whole. Brown v.
Colvin, 825 F.3d 936, 939 (8th Cir. 2016) (citing
Halverson v. Astrue, 600 F.3d 922, 929 (8th Cir. 2010)).
Stated another way, the decision must rest on enough evidence
that “a reasonable mind would find it adequate to
support [the] conclusion.” Halverson, 600 F.3d
at 929. The Court will not reverse the decision, however,
solely because there is evidence to support a conclusion
different from that reached by the Commissioner. Pelkey
v. Barnhart, 433 F.3d 575, 578 (8th Cir. 2006).
Parrish's Arguments on Appeal
Parrish maintains that the ALJ's decision to deny
benefits is not supported by substantial evidence. She argues
that the ALJ did not fully consider all of her impairments,
that the RFC did not incorporate all of her limitations, and
that the ALJ should have further developed the record.
Ms. Parrish complained of neck and back pain, a cervical MRI
showed only minor degenerative changes with no right-side
stenosis or disc herniation. (Tr. at 457) Objective tests
showing mild-to-moderate conditions do not support a finding
of disability. Masterson v. Barnhart, 363 F.3d 731,
738-39 (8th Cir. 2004). Ms. Parrish saw both a chiropractor
and pain management specialist; and she took prescription
medication for pain. (Tr. at 440-444, 483-491) In October of
2015, the pain management specialist noted that Ms.
Parrish's medications were effective with no side
effects. (Tr. at 491) He also stated that she could perform
daily activities with pain medication. Id. At that
time, Ms. Parrish had negative straight-leg raise and normal
strength, tone, and coordination. (Tr. at 497)
Parrish's medical records further reveal that her doctor
prescribed weight loss (Tr. at 498) and that she experienced
80% pain relief from medial branch blocks. (Tr. at 487)
Impairments that are controllable or amenable to treatment do
not support a finding of total disability. Mittlestedt v.
Apfel, 204 F.3d 847, 852 (8th Cir. 2000).
Ms. Parrish agreed that she could perform tasks such as
cooking meals, cleaning, and doing laundry. She attended
bible study, shopped in stores, made jewelry, and sewed. (Tr.
at 344-347) Daily activities such as these undermine Ms.
Parrish's claims of disability. Shannon v.
Chater, 54 F.3d 484, 487 (8th Cir. 1995) She also
continued to work, at least part-time, until 2016. (Tr. at
70) Working generally demonstrates an ability to perform a