United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Sheila Martz, 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 her claim for a period of disability
and disability insurance benefits (DIB) under the provisions
of Title II 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.
protectively filed an application for DIB on April 1, 2013,
alleging an inability to work since March 1, 2013, due to
epileptic seizures. (Tr. 64, 74). For DIB purposes, Plaintiff
maintained insured status through December 31, 2017. (Tr. 64,
74). An administrative hearing was held on January 22, 2014,
at which Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified. (Tr.
26-45). Plaintiff’s husband, Charles Martz, also
testified. (Tr. 45-51). Sarah Moore, Vocational Expert (VE),
was also present and testified. (Tr. 56-61). On April 16,
2014, the ALJ issued a written opinion where he found that
the Plaintiff had not been under a disability within the
meaning of the Social Security Act. (Tr. 21). Plaintiff
subsequently appealed the decision to the Appeals Council,
who declined to reverse the decision. (Tr. 1-6). Plaintiff
then appealed the decision to the United States District
Court for the Western District of Arkansas. While
Plaintiff’s complaint was pending before the United
States District Court, on September 28, 2015, Plaintiff filed
a subsequent application for DIB, alleging an inability to
work as of April 17, 2014, due to a seizure disorder,
bursitis, arthritis, tendonitis, enflamed joints on both
hands, sleep issues, panic attacks, double vision, stuttering
during seizures, an inability to drive due to seizures,
memory loss, impaired concentration, and multiple seizure
occurrences per hour. (Tr. 470-471, 489). Plaintiff’s
date last insured was adjusted to December 31, 2018. (Tr.
470, 488). Plaintiff’s subsequent application was
denied by a hearing decision issued on November 29, 2016, and
on January 18, 2017, Plaintiff appealed the decision to the
Appeals Council. (Tr. 408-420, 438). On January 23, 2017, the
United States District Court reversed and remanded
Plaintiff’s initial application for further
proceedings. (Tr. 426-434). On April 24, 2017, the Appeals
Council vacated both of the final decisions of the
Commissioner, requested that the ALJ join the records from
both of Plaintiff’s applications, and remanded both
cases to the ALJ for further review. (Tr. 438).
September 21, 2017, a hearing was held at which Plaintiff
appeared with counsel and testified. (Tr. 377-390). In a
written opinion dated November 30, 2017, the ALJ found that
the Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: seizure
disorder, bilateral hand pain, affective disorder, and
anxiety. (Tr. 324). However, after reviewing the evidence in
its entirety, the ALJ determined that the Plaintiff’s
impairments did not meet or equal the level of severity of
any listed impairments described in Appendix 1 of the
Regulations (20 CFR, Subpart P, Appendix 1). (Tr. 324-326).
The ALJ found Plaintiff retained the residual functional
capacity (RFC) to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR
404.1567(b), except for the following: Plaintiff could not
use ropes, ladders, or scaffolds; she must avoid hazards,
including moving machinery and unprotected heights; she could
not operate a motor vehicle; she could frequently balance,
stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; she could frequently finger,
handle, and reach bilaterally; she could frequently operate
hand and foot controls bilaterally; 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. 326). With the help of the VE’s responses to
interrogatories, the ALJ determined that although Plaintiff
was unable to perform her past relevant work, based on her
age, education, work experience, and RFC, there were jobs
that existed in significant numbers in the national economy
that Plaintiff could perform, such as a housekeeping cleaner
and an advertising material distributor. (Tr. 329).
Ultimately, the ALJ concluded that the Plaintiff had not been
under a disability within the meaning of the Social Security
Act from March 1, 2013, the alleged onset date, through the
date of the decision. (Tr. 330).
filed a Complaint before this Court on April 4, 2018, and the
case is before the undersigned pursuant to the consent of the
parties. (Docs. 1, 8). Both parties have filed appeal briefs,
and the case is now ready for decision. (Docs. 14, 15).
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 Plaintiff’s 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 Plaintiff’s 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 ...