United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
LAYNE K. COPELAND, on behalf of TRACY COLBERT-COPELAND PLAINTIFF
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Layne K. Copeland, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), seeking judicial review of a decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(Commissioner) denying Tracy Colbert-Copland's (Claimant)
claims for a period of disability and disability insurance
benefits (DIB) and supplemental security income (SSI) under
the provisions of Titles II and XVI of the Social Security
Act (Act). In this judicial review, the Court must determine
whether there is substantial evidence in the administrative
record to support the Commissioner's decision.
See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
protectively filed her current applications for DIB and SSI
on November 14, 2012, and October 23, 2012, respectively,
alleging an inability to work since May 15,
2010, due to the following alleged impairments:
five herniated discs, cracked vertebrae, neurological damage,
degenerative disc disease, ruptured discs, grand mal seizures
occurring in 2009, knee issues, and high blood pressure. (Tr.
151-152, 167). For DIB purposes, Claimant maintained insured
status through June 30, 2010. (Tr. 58). An administrative
hearing was held on January 22, 2014, where Claimant appeared
with counsel and testified. (Tr. 97-119). Sara Moore,
Vocational Expert (VE), also appeared and testified. (Tr.
116-119). The ALJ issued a written opinion on April 24, 2014,
where he found that Claimant had not been under a disability,
as defined in the Social Security Act, from May 15, 2010,
through the date of the decision. (Tr. 38). Claimant
subsequently appealed the decision to the Appeals Council,
who remanded the case back to the ALJ on September 9, 2015.
(Tr. 204-207). A second administrative hearing was held on
August 25, 2016, and Claimant and a vocational expert
testified. (Tr. 82-93).
written decision dated August 7, 2017, the ALJ found that
during the relevant time period, Claimant had the following
severe impairments: obesity; bilateral knee arthritis
resulting in total replacement of both knees; degenerative
disc disease; hypertension; personality disorder; affective
disorder; and seizure disorder. (Tr. 58). However, after
reviewing all of the evidence presented, the ALJ determined
that Claimant's impairments did not meet or equal the
level of severity of any impairment listed in the Listing of
Impairments found in Appendix I, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4.
(Tr. 58). The ALJ found that Claimant retained the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to perform sedentary work as
defined in 20 CFR §§ 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a),
except for the following: she could frequently finger,
handle, and reach bilaterally; she could not use ropes,
ladders, or scaffolds; she could not crawl; she could
occasionally use stairs and ramps, balance, stoop, kneel, and
crouch; she could not tolerate temperature extremes and
unprotected heights; she could occasionally tolerate moving
machinery, humidity, pulmonary irritants, vibrations, and
moderate noise, such as that found in an office setting; she
could perform simple, routine, repetitive tasks in a setting
where interpersonal contact was incidental to the work
performed; and she could respond to supervision that was
simple, direct, and concrete. (Tr. 61). With the help of a
vocational expert (VE), the ALJ determined that although
Claimant was unable to perform her past relevant work, there
were other jobs that existed in significant numbers in the
national economy that Claimant could perform, such as a
document preparation clerk, a compact assembler, and a nut
sorter. (Tr. 70). The ALJ concluded that the Claimant had not
been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security
Act, from May 15, 2010, through the date of the decision.
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, but the request was denied on March 27,
2018. (Tr. 1-7). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action.
(Doc. 1). This case is before the undersigned pursuant to the
consent of the parties. (Doc. 8). Both parties have filed
appeal briefs, and the case is now ready for decision. (Docs.
Court's role is to determine whether the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence on the record as a whole. Ramirez v.
Barnhart, 292 F.3d 576, 583 (8th Cir. 2002). Substantial
evidence is less than a preponderance, but it is enough that
a reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the
Commissioner's decision. The ALJ's decision must be
affirmed if the record contains substantial evidence to
support it. Edwards v. Barnhart, 314 F.3d 964, 966
(8th Cir. 2003). As long as there is substantial evidence in
the record that supports the Commissioner's decision, the
Court may not reverse it simply because substantial evidence
exists in the record that would have supported a contrary
outcome, or because the Court would have decided the case
differently. Haley v. Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747
(8th Cir. 2001). In other words, if after reviewing the
record it is possible to draw two inconsistent positions from
the evidence and one of those positions represents the
findings of the ALJ, the decision of the ALJ must be
affirmed. Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065, 1068 (8th
Court has reviewed the entire transcript and the parties'
briefs. For the reasons stated in the ALJ's well-reasoned
opinion and the Government's brief, the Court finds
Plaintiffs arguments on appeal to be without merit and finds
that the record as a whole reflects substantial evidence to
support the ALJ's decision. Accordingly, the ALJ's
decision is hereby summarily affirmed and Plaintiffs
Complaint is dismissed with prejudice. See Sledge v.
Astrue, No. 08-0089, 2008 WL 4816675 (W.D. Mo. Oct. 31,
2008) (summarily affirming ALJ's denial of disability
benefits), aff'd, 364 Fed. Appx. 307 (8th Cir. 2010).
SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED.
Andrew M. Saul, has been appointed to
serve as Commissioner of Social Security, and is substituted
as Defendant, pursuant to Rule 25(d)(1) of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure.
 At a hearing before the ALJ, Claimant
amended her alleged onset date from January 1, 2002, to May