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Henley v. Saul

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

October 15, 2019

LORRIE LANNETTE HENLEY PLAINTIFF
v.
ANDREW SAUL, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION[1] DEFENDANT

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         The following Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to United States District Judge Kristine G. Baker. 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, Lorrie Lannette Henley, applied for disability benefits on August 27, 2015, alleging a disability onset date of April 1, 2012.[2] (Tr. at 13). The application was denied initially and upon reconsideration Id. After conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied Ms. Henley's claim. (Tr. at 24). 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 Ms. Henley has requested judicial review. For the reasons stated below, the Court should affirm the decision of the Commissioner.

         II. The Commissioner's Decision:

         The ALJ found that Ms. Henley had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the amended alleged onset date of August 31, 2015. (Tr. at 16). At Step Two of the sequential five-step analysis, the ALJ found that Ms. Henley had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease, anemia, seizure disorder, depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and chronic pain syndrome. Id.

         The ALJ found that Ms. Henley's impairment did not meet or equal a listed impairment. Id. Before proceeding to Step Four, the ALJ determined that Ms. Henley had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform work at the light level, with limitations. (Tr. at 18). She should be allowed to sit or stand at will while performing work duties. Id. She could occasionally climb ramps and stairs. Id. She could never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. Id. She could occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. Id. She could never work at unprotected heights. Id. She could never be exposed to workplace hazards. Id. She could perform simple, routine, repetitive tasks. Id. She must have supervision that is simple, direct, and concrete. Id. She would be limited to work that can be learned in 30 days or less, and that is classified as unskilled work in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (“DOT”). Id.

         The ALJ next found that Ms. Henley was unable to perform any of her past relevant work. (Tr. at 22). The ALJ relied on the testimony of a Vocational Expert ("VE") to find that, considering Ms. Henley's age, education, work experience and RFC, jobs existed in significant numbers in the national economy that she could perform, such as storage facility clerk, with 50, 000 jobs available in the national economy, and parking enforcement officer, with 8, 000 positions available in the national economy. (Tr. at 24). Therefore, the ALJ found that Ms. Henley 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 record as a whole which supports the decision of the ALJ. Miller, 784 F.3d at 477. The Court has ...


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