Green v. Social Security Administration
ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER. The ALJ properly determine Green's RFC and posed a proper hypothetical question to the VE. The decision of the ALJ is hereby affirmed. Signed by Magistrate Judge Jerome T. Kearney on 5/22/2017. (jak)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
DENA LYNN GREEN
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,
Social Security Administration
ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER
Dena Green applied for social security disability benefits with an amended
alleged onset date of December 1, 2010. (R. at 33). After a hearing, the administrative
law judge (ALJ) denied Green’s applications. (R. at 20). The Appeals Council declined
review. (R. at 1). The ALJ’s decision stands as the Commissioner’s final decision, and
Green has requested judicial review. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of
the Magistrate Judge.
For the reasons stated below, this Court affirms the ALJ’s decision.
The Commissioner’s Decision
The ALJ found that Green had the severe impairments of bronchitis/asthma;
degenerative disk disease; degenerative joint disease; arthritis; medial meniscus tear;
obesity; and anxiety. (R. at 11). The ALJ then determined that Green had the residual
functional capacity to perform less than the full range of sedentary work, specifically
that she could lift and/or carry up to 10 pounds occasionally; sit six hours in an eight
hour day; stand and walk a total of two hours in an eight hour day; occasionally stoop,
crouch, bend, kneel, crawl, and balance; perform work that is simple, routine, and
repetitive with supervision that is simple, direct, and concrete; would be unable to
tolerate excessive exposure to dust, smoke, fumes, and other pulmonary irritants; and
would require a cane to work. (R. at 14). Having taken testimony from a vocational
expert (VE), the ALJ then found that Green could not return to her past relevant work.
(R. at 18). However, the ALJ found that Green could perform such jobs as a food order
clerk or a charge account clerk. (R. at 19). Accordingly, the ALJ determined that Green
was not disabled at step 5 of the five-step evaluative process. (R. at 20).
Green argues that the ALJ erred in determining her RFC and failed to present a
proper hypothetical to the VE. Specifically, she argues that she is unable to effectively
ambulate, that her obesity was not accounted for, and that the ALJ did not account for
her need to keep her legs elevated.
This Court will affirm the ALJ’s decision if it is supported by “substantial
evidence in the record as a whole,” which is more than a scintilla but less than a
preponderance. Slusser v. Astrue, 557 F.3d 923, 925 (8th Cir. 2009). Even if it is
possible to draw two inconsistent positions from the evidence, the Court must affirm if
one of those positions represents the ALJ’s findings. Milam v. Colvin, 794 F.3d 978, 983
(8th Cir. 2015).
While Green argues for additional limitations that the ALJ did not include, she
cites to no medical evidence supporting those limitations. She notes numerous findings
relating to the degenerative joint disease in her knee, but the ALJ fully considered her
history of knee problems. (R. at 16–17). Additionally, while Green takes issue with the
ALJ’s focus on her use of a cane for balance, this was the wording used by her own
doctor. (R. at 16, 590). Her doctor even noted that “she feels like she is getting around
okay.” (R. at 590). The ALJ included the use of a cane in the RFC, so it is unclear how
the ALJ’s statements regarding her use of a cane are either inaccurate or prejudicial.
The record is also devoid of any physician’s opinion imposing additional
limitations on Green due to her obesity. Further, the ALJ specifically considered her
obesity in the opinion, noting that it “most likely complicates her knee and back
problems, as well as her respiratory impairments.” (R. at 17).
Green also maintains that her use of narcotic pain medication precludes the
ability to work due to side effects. However, she reported that she suffered no side
effects from the use of her medication. (R. at 208). She also stated that her pain lasts
“until I take my medicine.” (R. at 207). If an impairment can be controlled with
medication, it cannot be considered disabling. Turpin v. Colvin, 750 F.3d 989, 993 (8th
Green briefly summarizes listings 1.03 and 1.02 but makes no clear argument as
to their application. However, as Green can ambulate effectively, she meets neither
listing. 20 C.F.R. § Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App. 1.
As to Green’s alleged need to elevate her legs, there is no medical evidence
showing that she needs to do so. The only evidence suggesting that she needs to elevate
her legs comes from her testimony. (R. at 34–35). The ALJ discredited Green’s
subjective allegations for legally sufficient reasons. (R. at 15–18). She also does not
challenge the ALJ’s credibility determination and has not demonstrated that it was
Concerning the hypothetical question posed to the VE, the ALJ’s question
included all of the limitations identified in the RFC, and Green has failed to show that
the ALJ excluded any limitation that is supported by substantial evidence on the record
as a whole. As such, the hypothetical question was sufficient.
A reasonable mind would find that the evidence is adequate to support the ALJ’s
decision. The ALJ properly determined Green’s RFC and posed a proper hypothetical
question to the VE. The decision of the ALJ is hereby affirmed.
It is so ordered this 22nd day of May 2017.
JEROME T. KEARNEY
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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