United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
Recommendation has been sent to Judge Billy Roy Wilson.
Either party may file written objections to the
Recommendation. If objections are filed, they should be
specific and should include the factual or legal basis for
considered, objections must be received in the office of the
Court Clerk within 14 days of this Recommendation. If no
objections are filed, Judge Wilson can adopt this
Recommendation without independently reviewing the record. By
not objecting, parties may waive the right to appeal
questions of fact.
March 9, 2015, Cheryl Yolanda Jones applied for disability
benefits, alleging disability beginning January 17, 2015.
(Tr. at 11) Her claims were denied initially and upon
reconsideration. Id. After conducting a hearing, the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied her
application. (Tr. at 28). Ms. Jones requested the Appeals
Council to 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.
Jones filed this case seeking judicial review of the decision
denying her benefits.
The Commissioner’s Decision:
found that Ms. Jones had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the alleged onset date of January 17, 2015.
(Tr. at 13) At step two of the five-step analysis, the ALJ
found that Ms. Jones had the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease, status post double foot surgeries,
sleep apnea, an affective disorder, and an anxiety disorder.
finding that Ms. Jones’s impairments did not meet or
equal a listed impairment (Tr. at 14), the ALJ determined
that Ms. Jones had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform the full range of light work
with some additional limitations. (Tr. at 17) She could only
occasionally climb ramps, stairs, ladders, ropes, and
scaffolds. Id. She could only occasionally balance,
stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. Id. She could only
occasionally reach overhead with her right upper extremity.
(Tr. at 18) She could frequently handle and finger with the
right hand. Id. She could perform simple, routine,
repetitive tasks with incidental interpersonal contact where
the supervision required is simple, direct, and concrete.
found, based on Ms. Jones’s RFC, that she was unable to
perform any of her past relevant work. (Tr. at 24) At step
five, the ALJ relied on the testimony of a Vocational Expert
(“VE”) to find, based on Ms. Jones’s age,
education, work experience and RFC, that she was capable of
performing work in the national economy as office helper,
fast food worker, machine tender or label cutter, and
telephone quotation clerk. (Tr. at 28) Based on the
determination, the ALJ concluded that Ms. Jones was not
Standard of Review
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).
Jones’s Arguments on Appeal
Jones maintains that the ALJ’s decision to deny
benefits is not supported by substantial evidence. She argues
that: 1) the ALJ failed to consider her impairments in
combination; 2) the ALJ failed to properly analyze her
subjective complaints; and 3) the RFC by the ALJ did not
incorporate all of her limitations. After reviewing the
record as a whole, the Court concludes that the ALJ did not
err in denying benefits.
record reflects generally mild objective findings,
conservative care, and positive response to medications over
time. With respect to Ms. Jones’s back condition, an
MRI of the lumbar spine in February 2015 showed degenerative
spondylosis with disc herniation, but without abutment of the
nerve root. (Tr. at 434) Ms. Jones told her provider that
medication had improved her activity levels and quality of
life, with no side effects. (Tr. at 443, 444) Impairments
that are controllable or amenable to treatment do not support
a finding of total disability. Mittlestedt v. Apfel,
204 F.3d 847, 852 (8th Cir. 2000). She said she could perform
activities of ...