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Cowan v. Saul

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

August 7, 2019

RAELYNN COWAN PLAINTIFF
v.
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security Administration[1]DEFENDANT

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         I. Procedures for filing Objections:

         This Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to District Judge Brian S. Miller. You may file written objections to this Recommendation. If you file objections, they must be specific and must include the factual or legal basis for your objection.

         Your objections must be received in the office of the United States District Court Clerk within fourteen (14) days of this Recommendation.

         If no objections are filed, Judge Miller can adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing the record. By not objecting, you may also waive any right to appeal questions of fact.

         II. Introduction:

         Plaintiff, Raelynn Cowan (“Cowan”), applied for disability benefits on July 29, 2016, alleging a disability onset date of April 13, 2016. (Tr. at 64). After conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (''ALJ'') denied her application. (Tr. at 76). The Appeals Council denied her request for review. (Tr. at 1). The ''LJ's decision now stands as the final decision of the Commissioner, and Cowan has requested judicial review.

         For the reasons stated below, this Court should affirm the decision of the Commissioner.

         III. The Commissioner's Decision:

         The ALJ found that Cowan had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date of April 13, 2016 (Tr. at 66). The ALJ found, at Step Two of the sequential five-step analysis, that Cowan had the following severe impairments: past history of knee surgeries, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression. Id.

         At Step Three, the ALJ determined that Cowan's impairments did not meet or equal a listed impairment. Id. Before proceeding to Step Four, the ALJ determined that Cowan had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work with restrictions: 1) she could only occasionally stoop, crouch, bend, kneel, crawl, and balance; 2) she could perform work that is simple, routine, and repetitive, with supervision that is simple, direct, and concrete; and 3) she could occasionally interact with the public and frequently interact with co-workers and supervisors. (Tr. at 68).

         The ALJ found that Cowan was unable to perform any past relevant work. (Tr. at 75). Next, the ALJ relied on the testimony of a Vocational Expert ("VE") to find that, considering Cowan's age, education, work experience and RFC, jobs existed in significant numbers in the national economy that she could perform, such as rental clerk and office helper. (Tr. at 76). Therefore, the ALJ found that Cowan was not disabled. Id.

         IV. Discussion:

         A. Standard of Review

         The Court's role is to determine whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial evidence. Prosch v. Apfel,201 F.3d 1010, 1012 (8th Cir. 2000). ''Substantial evidence-in this context means less than a preponderance but more than a scintilla. Slusser v. Astrue,557 F.3d 923, 925 (8th Cir. 2009). In other words, it is ''enough that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the ALJ's decision.'' Id. (citation omitted). The Court must consider not only evidence that supports the Commissioner's decision, but also evidence that supports a contrary outcome. The Court cannot reverse the decision, however, ''merely because ...


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