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Smith v. Saul

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

October 11, 2019

DEMEITRA LASHA SMITH PLAINTIFF
v.
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security Administration[1] DEFENDANT

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         I. Procedures for filing Objections:

         This Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to District Judge Susan Webber Wright. You may file written objections to this Recommendation. If you file objections, they must be specific and must include the factual or legal basis for your objection.

         Your objections must be received in the office of the United States District Court Clerk within fourteen (14) days of this Recommendation.

         If no objections are filed, Judge Wright can adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing the record. By not objecting, you may also waive any right to appeal questions of fact.

         II. Introduction:

         Plaintiff, Demeitra Lasha Smith (“Smith”), applied for disability benefits on July 16, 2014, alleging disability beginning on February 28, 2009.[2] (Tr. at 11). After conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (AALJ@) denied her application. (Tr. at 21). The Appeals Council denied her request for review. (Tr. at 1). The ALJ's decision now stands as the final decision of the Commissioner, and Smith has requested judicial review.

         For the reasons stated below, this Court should affirm the decision of the Commissioner.

         III. The Commissioner's Decision:

         The ALJ found that Smith had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 16, 2014, the date the application for Title XVI benefits was filed. (Tr. at 13). The ALJ found, at Step Two of the sequential five-step analysis, that Smith had the following severe impairments: left eye blindness, glaucoma in the right eye, obesity, cardiomegaly/chronic heart failure (“CHF”), hypertension, and diabetes mellitus. Id.

         At Step Three, the ALJ determined that Smith's impairments did not meet or equal a listed impairment. (Tr. at 14). Before proceeding to Step Four, the ALJ determined that Smith had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform sedentary work with restrictions: (1) she requires a sit/stand option that involves standing or walking in intervals of 10 minutes and sitting in intervals of 60 to 120 minutes; (2) she can perform work that only requires monocular vision, but she should avoid work that requires depth perception and or full peripheral vision; and (3) she should avoid exposure to hazards such as moving mechanical parts of equipment, tools, or machinery, as well as electrical shock and unprotected heights. Id.

         The ALJ found that Smith was unable to perform any past relevant work. (Tr. at 19). Next, the ALJ relied on the testimony of a Vocational Expert ("VE") to find that, considering Smith's age, education, work experience and RFC, jobs existed in significant numbers in the national economy that she could perform, such as surveillance system monitor and inspector. (Tr. at 20). Therefore, the ALJ found that Smith was not disabled. Id.

         IV. Discussion:

         A. Standard of Review

         The Court's role is to determine whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial evidence. Prosch v. Apfel, 201 F.3d 1010, 1012 (8th Cir. 2000). “Substantial evidence” in this context means less than a preponderance but more than a scintilla. Slusser v. Astrue, 557 F.3d 923, 925 (8th Cir. 2009). In other words, it is “enough that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the ALJ's decision.” Id. (citation omitted). The Court must consider not only evidence that supports the Commissioner's decision, but also evidence that supports a contrary outcome. The Court cannot reverse the decision, however, “merely ...


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