United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
AMBER D. STEWART PLAINTIFF
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
Procedures for filing Objections:
Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has
been sent to District Judge Susan Webber Wright. 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.
objections must be received in the office of the United
States District Court Clerk within fourteen (14) days of this
objections are filed, Judge Wright can adopt this
Recommendation without independently reviewing the record. By
not objecting, you may also waive any right to appeal
questions of fact.
Amber D. Stewart (“Stewart”), applied for
disability benefits on September 4, 2015, alleging disability
beginning on August 18, 2015. (Tr. at 30). After conducting a
hearing, the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ")
denied her application. (Tr. at 44). The Appeals Council
denied her request for review. (Tr. at 1). The ALJ's
decision now stands as the final decision of the
Commissioner, and Stewart has requested judicial review.
reasons stated below, this Court should affirm the decision
of the Commissioner.
The Commissioner's Decision:
found that Stewart had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the alleged onset date of August 18, 2015 (Tr.
at 33). The ALJ found, at Step Two of the sequential
five-step analysis, that Stewart had the following severe
impairments: left and medial and lateral meniscus tears,
status post left knee arthroscopy, partial medial
meniscectomy, and partial lateral meniscectomy; irritable
bowel syndrome; gastroparesis; anemia; fibromyalgia; obesity;
major depressive disorder; and generalized anxiety disorder.
Three, the ALJ determined that Stewart's impairments did
not meet or equal a listed impairment. Id. Before
proceeding to Step Four, the ALJ determined that Stewart had
the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
perform sedentary work with restrictions: 1) she is limited
to work where interpersonal contact is incidental to the work
performed, where incidental is defined as interpersonal
contact requiring a limited degree of interaction such as
meeting and greeting the public, answering simple questions,
accepting payment, and making change; 2) she is limited to
work where the complexity of tasks can be learned by
demonstration or repetition within 30 days with few variables
and little judgment; and 3) she is limited to work where the
supervision required is simple, direct, and concrete. (Tr. at
found that Stewart was unable to perform any past relevant
work. (Tr. at 42). Next, the ALJ relied on the testimony of a
Vocational Expert ("VE") to find that, considering
Stewart's age, education, work experience and RFC, jobs
existed in significant numbers in the national economy that
she could perform, such as addresser and document preparer.
(Tr. at 43). Therefore, the ALJ found that Stewart was not
Standard of Review
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 substantial ...