Bobbitt v. Social Security Administration
ORDER REMANDING TO THE COMMISSIONER. The Court finds that the ALJ's decision is not supported by substantial evidence. The ALJ is instructed to reevaluate Bobbitt's RFC specifically in regard to a proper limit on her ability to stand and/or walk throughout the day. Signed by Magistrate Judge J. Thomas Ray on 8/1/2016. (jak)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
CAROLYN W. COLVIN,
Social Security Administration
ORDER REMANDING TO THE COMMISSIONER
Alesia Bobbitt (“Bobbitt”) applied for social security disability benefits with
an alleged onset date of October 6, 2011. (R. at 56). The administrative law judge
(“ALJ”) denied Bobbitt’s application, and the Appeals Council declined her
request for review. (R. at 1). The ALJ’s decision thus stands as the final decision of
the Commissioner from which Bobbitt has requested judicial review.
For the reasons stated below, this Court1 reverses and remands the
The Commissioner’s Decision
The ALJ found that Bobbitt had: (1) a severe impairment, namely acquired
equinus Achilles (R. at 27); and (2) the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
perform light work, except that she was restricted from climbing ropes, ladders, or
scaffolding; from performing work at unprotected heights; and from the use of any
The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States
Magistrate Judge. Doc. 4.
foot controls of the left foot. (R. at 28). After hearing testimony from a vocational
expert, the ALJ determined that Bobbitt could not return to past relevant work but
could work in such jobs as motel maid or cafeteria server. (R. at 30–31). As a
result, the ALJ held that Bobbitt was not disabled. (R. at 32).
Bobbitt argues that substantial evidence does not support the ALJ’s decision.
She specifically argues that the ALJ’s credibility analysis was flawed and that the
medical records support her allegations.
The Commissioner’s decision must be affirmed if it is not based on legal
error and is supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole. Long v.
Chater, 108 F.3d 185, 187 (8th Cir. 1997). “Substantial evidence in the record as a
whole” has been defined to mean “less than a preponderance, but enough that a
reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the ALJ’s decision.” Slusser v.
Astrue, 557 F.3d 923, 925 (8th Cir. 2009). The Court defers to the ALJ’s
credibility determination if it is supported by good reasons and substantial
evidence. Turpin v. Colvin, 750 F.3d 989, 993 (8th Cir. 2014).
After carefully reviewing the record, the Court concludes that the ALJ’s
credibility analysis is flawed. The ALJ commended Bobbitt on her work history,
both in the decision and at the hearing. (R. at 29, 40). This strong work history
includes two jobs, each of which she held for almost nine years, with no gap in
employment. (R. at 173). Such a work history lends support to a claimant’s
credibility. O'Donnell v. Barnhart, 318 F.3d 811, 816-17 (8th Cir. 2003).
While Bobbitt declined pain medication on two occasions, the overall
evidence supports her allegations of pain. (R. at 283, 342, 344). Notably, Bobbitt
declined treatment recommended for reflex sympathetic dystrophy of the lower
limb, a condition she later was determined not to have. (R. at 250, 282, 283).
Further, Bobbitt has been prescribed hydrocodone and a Medrol Dosepak. (R. at
157, 210). She reported that the Medrol Dosepak was not effective in controlling
her pain and that hydrocodone makes her sick and sleepy. (R. at 157, 287). She
testified to using ibuprofen to help control her pain. (R. at 43).
The ALJ stated that Bobbitt’s daily activities do not support a finding of
disability (R. at 30). However, the Eighth Circuit has held that light housework and
other such activities do not, standing alone, support a finding that a claimant can
perform full time competitive work. Baumgarten v. Chater, 75 F.3d 366, 369 (8th
Cir. 1996). “The test is whether the claimant has ‘the ability to perform the
requisite physical acts day in and day out, in the sometimes competitive and
stressful conditions in which real people work in the real world.’” Draper v.
Barnhart, 425 F.3d 1127, 1131 (8th Cir. 2005) (quoting McCoy v. Schweiker, 683
F.2d 1138, 1147 (8th Cir. 1982)). In particular, the ALJ noted that Bobbitt can
shop while leaning on a shopping cart for support. (R. at 30). Light work generally
requires that a worker be capable of walking or standing for six hours in an eighthour workday. Holley v. Massanari, 253 F.3d 1088, 1091 (8th Cir. 2001). The fact
that Bobbitt must lean on a shopping cart while she shops does not support her
ability to perform light work.
Bobbitt reported shopping for three hours on one occasion, after which she
had to rest. (R. at 289). Her treating podiatrist later opined that two hours was the
approximate maximum time she could walk and stand before needing to rest her
foot. (R. at 282). In short, the objective medical evidence simply does not provide
any support for the ALJ’s determination that Bobbitt had the RFC to perform light
work, which would have required her to stand or walk for six hours in an eighthour workday.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court finds that the ALJ’s decision is not
supported by substantial evidence. On remand, the ALJ is instructed to reevaluate
Bobbitt’s RFC, specifically in regard to a proper limit on her ability to stand and/or
walk throughout the day.
It is so ordered this 1st day of August, 2016.
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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