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Harrell v. Saul

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

July 24, 2019

SHAREE HARRELL PLAINTIFF
v.
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner Social Security Administration [1] DEFENDANT

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         This Recommended Disposition (Recommendation) has been sent to Judge Brian S. Miller. Either party may file written objections to this Recommendation. If objections are filed, they should be specific and should include the factual or legal basis for the objection.

         To be considered, objections must be received in the office of the Court Clerk within 14 days of this Recommendation. If no objections are filed, Judge Miller can adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing the record. By not objecting, parties may also waive the right to appeal questions of fact.

         I. Introduction:

         On May 7, 2016, Sharee Harrell applied for disability benefits, alleging disability beginning July 17, 2014. (Tr. at 9) Her claims were denied both initially and upon reconsideration. Id. After conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) denied her application. (Tr. at 18). Ms. Harrell requested that the Appeals Council review the ALJ's decision, but that request was denied. (Tr. at 1) Therefore, the ALJ's decision now stands as the final decision of the Commissioner. Ms. Harrell, appearing pro se, filed this case seeking judicial review of the decision denying his benefits.

         II. The Commissioner's Decision:

         The ALJ found that Ms. Harrell had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date of July 17, 2014. (Tr. at 11) At step two of the five-step analysis, the ALJ found that Ms. Harrell had the following severe impairments: plantar fasciitis and degenerative joint disease. Id.

         After finding that Ms. Harrell's impairments did not meet or equal a listed impairment (Tr. at 12), the ALJ determined that Ms. Harrell had the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform the full range of work at the sedentary level, with some additional limitations. (Tr. at 12). She could only occasionally climb ramps and stairs and could never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. Id.

         The ALJ next found that Ms. Harrell had no past relevant work. (Tr. at 16) At step five, the ALJ relied on the testimony of a Vocational Expert (VE) to find that, based on Ms. Harrell's age, education, work experience and RFC, she was capable of performing work in the national economy as either a telephone marketer or an appointment clerk. (Tr. at 17) Based on this determination, the ALJ held that Ms. Harrell was not disabled. Id.

         III. Discussion:

         A. Standard of Review

         In this 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).

         B. Ms. Harrell's Arguments on Appeal

         Ms. Harrell maintains that substantial evidence does not support the ALJ's decision to deny benefits. She argues that the RFC did not fully incorporate her limitations. After reviewing the record as a whole, the Court concludes that the ALJ did not err in denying benefits.

         Ms. Harrell's main impairment was foot pain. X-rays from 2015 showed flattening of the arch and Boehler's angle of calcaneus. (Tr. at 261) She had degenerative joint space narrowing but no acute fractures or soft tissue swelling. Id. The only other evidence of record consists of three visits to podiatrist Eddy L. Caldwell, D.P.M. Ms. Harrell did not see Dr. Caldwell until 2016, two years into the relevant time period for evaluation of disability. The failure to seek ...


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