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Casey v. Saul

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

August 26, 2019

MICHAEL CASEY PLAINTIFF
v.
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security Administration[1] DEFENDANT

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         The following Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to United States District Judge Kristine G. Baker. You may file written objections to all or part of this Recommendation. If you do so, those objections must: (1) specifically explain the factual and/or legal basis for your objections; and (2) be received by the Clerk of this Court within fourteen (14) days of this Recommendation. By not objecting, you may waive the right to appeal questions of fact.

         I. Introduction:

         Plaintiff, Michael Casey, applied for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income benefits on April 16, 2015, alleging a disability onset date of December 31, 2013. (Tr. at 15). After conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied his application. (Tr. at 28). The Appeals Council denied his request for review. (Tr. at 1). The ALJ's decision now stands as the final decision of the Commissioner. Mr. Casey has requested judicial review.

         For the reasons stated below, this Court should reverse the ALJ's decision and remand for further review.

         II. The Commissioner's Decision:

         The ALJ found that Mr. Casey had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the amended alleged onset date of November 20, 2015. (Tr. at 18). At Step Two, the ALJ found that Mr. Casey has the following severe impairments: obstructive sleep apnea and personality disorder. Id.

         After finding that Mr. Casey's impairment did not meet or equal a listed impairment (Tr. at 19), the ALJ determined that Mr. Casey had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform the full range of work at all exertional levels, except that he could perform work where: (1) the interpersonal contact is incidental to the work performed; (2) the complexity of tasks is learned and performed by rote, involves few variables, and requires little independent judgment; and (3) the supervision required is simple, direct, and concrete. (Tr. at 21). The RFC provides that Mr. Casey cannot deal with the general public. Id.

         The ALJ determined that Mr. Casey was not capable of performing any past relevant work. (Tr. at 27). Relying upon the testimony of the Vocational Expert (“VE”) at Step Five, the ALJ found that, based on Mr. Casey's age, education, work experience and RFC, jobs existed in the national economy which he could perform, specifically hospital cleaner and garment bagger. (Tr. at 28). Consequently, the ALJ found that Mr. Casey 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:

“[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).

         It is not the task of this Court to review the evidence and make an independent decision. Neither is it to reverse the decision of the ALJ because there is evidence in the record which contradicts his findings. The test is whether there is substantial evidence in the ...


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