United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Central Division
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.
Wanda Martin (“Martin”), applied for disability
benefits on September 9, 2013, alleging disability beginning
on October 11, 2008. (Tr. at 300). After conducting a hearing,
an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied her
application on November 13, 2015. (Tr. at 312). The ALJ found
that Martin was capable of performing work at all exertional
levels, with no nonexertional impairments. (Tr. 306). After
considering Martin's request for review of the hearing
decision, the Appeals Council remanded the case for another
hearing. (Tr. at 318-322). The Appeals Council directed a
second ALJ to: (1) obtain additional evidence regarding
Martin's mental health problems; (2) give further
consideration to Martin's maximum residual functional
capacity; and (3) to obtain supplemental evidence from a
Vocational Expert (“VE”), if necessary.
second ALJ held a hearing on July 17, 2017. (Tr. at 15). On
December 13, 2017, he issued a decision denying Martin's
application for disability benefits. (Tr. at 30). The Appeals
Council denied Martin's request for review. (Tr. at 1).
Thus, the ALJ's decision now stands as the final decision
of the Commissioner. Martin has filed a Complaint seeking
reasons stated below, the Court concludes that the
Commissioner's decision should be affirmed.
The Commissioner's Decision:
found that Martin had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since her amended disability onset date of April 30,
2013. (Tr. at 18). At Step Two, the ALJ found
that Martin has the following severe impairments:
hypothyroidism; hypertension; major depressive disorder;
generalized anxiety disorder; and personality disorder.
finding that Martin's impairments did not meet or equal a
listed impairment (Tr. at 19), the ALJ determined that Martin
had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
perform the full range of medium work, except that the work
must be unskilled, with simple, routine, and repetitive
tasks, with only incidental interpersonal contact, and the
supervision required must be simple, direct, and concrete.
(Tr. at 21).
on Martin's RFC and Vocational Expert (“VE”)
testimony (via interrogatory), the ALJ concluded that Martin
was unable to perform any of her past relevant work. (Tr. at
28, 635-644). However, relying upon testimony from the VE,
the ALJ concluded that, based on Martin's age, education,
work experience and RFC, jobs existed in significant numbers
in the national economy that she could perform, including
work as a kitchen helper and a food prep worker. (Tr. at 29).
Thus, the ALJ held that Martin was not disabled. Id.
Standard of Review
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
“[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,