Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Young v. Saul

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

December 12, 2019

SAIDAH D. YOUNG 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 Lee P. Rudofsky. 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:

         This case has a complex procedural history, including a remand by this Court in 2007 and several other remands by the Appeals Council. In short, however, the Court finds that the ALJ's most recent decision was supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole. Ms. Young was not always compliant with her doctors' recommendations (such as weight loss and exercise), she improved over the relevant time-period, and her most serious health problems were acute in nature, resolving with treatment. While the ALJ may have made some errors in his decision process, the Court finds that those errors were harmless.

         II. Procedural History:

         Ms. Young filed her initial application on April 19, 2002, alleging a disability onset date of October 19, 2001. (Tr. at 586). She alleged disability based on irregular heart rate, fatigue, shortness of breath, and hypertension. Id. Ms. Young's applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration, and a hearing was held at her request on September 21, 2005, in front of Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Stimson. (Tr. at 17, 586).

         On December 20, 2005, ALJ Stimson issued a decision finding that Ms. Young was not disabled. (Tr. at 17-22, 586). ALJ Stimson found that Ms. Young had severe impairments of ischemic heart disease and essential hypertension. (Tr. at 19). He found that she had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to lift and carry 10 pounds occasionally and less than 10 pounds frequently and to stand/walk six hours and sit six hours in an eight-hour day, which qualified as “light” exertional level work, because of the standing and walking requirement.[2] (Tr. at 20). This meant that Ms. Young could return to her past relevant work as a typist/clerk/stenographer, a sedentary job.[3] Id. Thus, ALJ Stimson found that Ms. Young was not disabled. (Tr. at 21-22). She appealed her case to the Appeals Council, and on May 25, 2006, the Appeals Council denied her request for review of the hearing decision. (Tr. at 586-587).

         Ms. Young filed a complaint in this Court disputing ALJ Stimson's decision, and United States District Judge Leon Holmes issued an Opinion and Order remanding the case for further review on September 17, 2007. (Tr. at 586-597); Case No. 3:06CV129 JLH (Sept. 17, 2007). In his Order, Judge Holmes instructed ALJ Stimson to: 1) further develop the record; 2) consider Ms. Young's obesity; 3) give good reasons for the weight ALJ Stimson accorded to the consultative medical opinions; 4) determine the physical demands of Ms. Young's past relevant work; and 5) consider whether she was entitled to benefits for a closed period of time, specifically in 2002 and 2003. (Tr. at 593-597). The Appeals Council officially remanded the case to ALJ Stimson on January 4, 2008. (Tr. at 599).

         The next administrative hearing took place on December 30, 2008 (Tr. at 541). ALJ Stimson issued a decision denying Ms. Young benefits again on March 26, 2009. (Tr. at 541-548). In his decision, he found that Ms. Young had severe impairments of ischemic heart disease, essential hypertension, and right hip pain. (Tr. at 543). He assigned the same RFC as he assigned in the first decision, for light work. (Tr. at 544). Based on the RFC, he determined that Ms. Young could return to her past work as an editorial assistant or document specialist, both jobs in the sedentary exertional category. (Tr. at 547). Thus, ALJ Stimson concluded that Ms. Young was not disabled. (Tr. at 548).

         The Appeals Council remanded the case again to ALJ Stimson on June 10, 2011. (Tr. at 562). The Appeals Council directed ALJ Stimson to: 1) give further consideration to all of the medical opinions, obtaining more medical evidence if necessary; 2) obtain an additional orthopedic medical assessment from a specialist; 3) further evaluate Ms. Young's RFC, and explain the weight given to each medical opinion that addresses her RFC; and 4) if necessary, obtain supplemental evidence from a vocational expert (“VE”) about the availability of jobs Ms. Young could perform. (Tr. at 563-564).

         A third hearing was held in front of ALJ Stimson on January 24, 2012. (Tr. at 568). ALJ Stimson issued his decision denying benefits on June 14, 2012 (Tr. at 568-578). In his decision, he found that Ms. Young had the following severe impairments: ischemic heart disease, hypertension, and degenerative disease of the right hip. (Tr. at 571). He assigned Ms. Young an RFC for sedentary work. Id. ALJ Stimson found that Ms. Young could return to her past work as a transcriptionist and a document specialist, both sedentary jobs. (Tr. at 577).

         The Appeals Council remanded the case for a third time, on June 30, 2014. (Tr. at 579-585). The Appeals Council directed the case to be heard by a different ALJ. Id. The remand order directed the new ALJ (ALJ Ingram) to: 1) give further consideration to Ms. Young's fatigue symptoms, obesity, and anemia; 2) obtain expert medical evidence if necessary; 3) give further consideration to all of the medical opinions in the record with respect to their RFC findings; 4) further evaluate whether Ms. Young could return to her past relevant work; and 5) if warranted, obtain VE testimony at Step Five. (Tr. at 584-585).

         ALJ Ingram conducted the most recent hearing on June 16, 2015. (Tr. at 521-530). He issued a decision on July 23, 2015, finding that Ms. Young was not disabled prior to August 1, 2011, but was disabled and entitled to benefits from that date forward. Id. While Ms. Young's attorney claimed that he filed timely objections to that decision, the Appeals Council found those objections to be untimely (Tr. at 496); therefore, ALJ Ingram's decision now stands as the final decision of the Commissioner, and Ms. Young has requested judicial review. For the reasons stated below, the Court should affirm the decision of the Commissioner.

         III. The Commissioner's Decision:

         The ALJ found that Ms. Young had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date of October 19, 2001.[4] (Tr. at 523). At Step Two, ALJ Ingram found that prior to August 1, 2011, Ms. Young had severe impairments of obesity and right hip slipped subcapital epiphysis. (Tr. at 523). Beginning on August 1, 2011, Ms. Young had advanced osteoarthritis of the right hip as a severe impairment. Id. At Step Three, ALJ Ingram found that Ms. Young's impairments did not meet or equal a listed impairment. (Tr. at 524).

         The ALJ found that prior to August 1, 2011, the date Ms. Young became disabled, she had the RFC to perform light work, except that she could only occasionally kneel, crouch, crawl, balance, or climb. Id. The ALJ identified Ms. Young's past relevant work as word processor (sedentary exertional level), medical transcriptionist (sedentary exertional level), and emergency room clerk (light exertional level). (Tr. at 528). He determined, based on the record and the demands of her past relevant work, that prior to August 1, 2011, Ms. Young was capable of performing her past relevant work. Id.

         The ALJ found Ms. Young to be disabled beginning on August 1, 2011, due to hip problems set forth in the medical record. (Tr. at 528-529). She could not perform past relevant work or any other work in the national economy from August 1, 2011 forward. Id.

         To summarize, ALJ Ingram found that Ms. Young was not disabled prior to August 1, 2011, but was entitled to benefits beginning on that date.

         IV. 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 ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.