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Pitts v. Saul

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

September 3, 2019

CHARLES E. PITTS PLAINTIFF
v.
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security Administration[1] DEFENDANT

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         The following Recommended Disposition has been sent to United States District Judge Brian S. Miller. 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, Charles E. Pitts (“Pitts”), applied for disability benefits on June 6, 2016, alleging disability beginning on June 15, 2014.[2] (Tr. at 11). After conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied his application. (Tr. at 18). The Appeals Council denied Pitts' request for review. (Tr. at 1). Thus, the ALJ's decision now stands as the final decision of the Commissioner. Pitts has filed a Complaint seeking judicial review.

         For the reasons stated below, the Court concludes that the Commissioner's decision should be affirmed.

         II. The Commissioner's Decision:

         The ALJ found that Pitts had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since his alleged onset date of December 5, 2014. (Tr. at 14). At Step Two, the ALJ found that Pitts has the following severe impairments: disorder of the back and gluteal bursitis bilaterally. Id.

         After finding that Pitts' impairments did not meet or equal a listed impairment (Tr. at 14), the ALJ determined that Pitts had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform the full range of light work, except that he could only occasionally climb ladders, ramps, stairs, ropes, or scaffolds, and could only occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl. (Tr. at 15).

         Based on Pitts' RFC and testimony from a Vocational Expert (“VE”), the ALJ concluded that Pitts was able to perform his past work of wastewater treatment plant operator or wastewater treatment plan instructor. (Tr. at 17). Thus, the ALJ held that Pitts 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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