Ellsworth v. Social Security Administration Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Honorable Erin L. Wiedemann on February 14, 2018. (mjm)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
FORT SMITH DIVISION
MELODY G. ELLSWORTH
CIVIL NO. 16-2265
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Commissioner
Social Security Administration
Plaintiff, Melody G. Ellsworth, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g),
seeking judicial review of a decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (Commissioner) denying her claims for a period of disability and disability
insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental security income (SSI) benefits under the provisions
of Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (Act). In this judicial review, the Court must
determine whether there is substantial evidence in the administrative record to support the
Commissioner's decision. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Plaintiff protectively filed her current applications for DIB and SSI on May 16, 2014,
alleging an inability to work since April 1, 2011, due to diabetes, high blood pressure, tarsal
tunnel, a herniated disc in the neck, bacteria in stomach lining, chronic ear infectio ns,
neuropathy in feet and legs, muscle spasm in the right arm, an inability to use her right hand
due to spasms, knee problems, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), sleep apnea, COPD (chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease), depression and short term memory loss. (Tr. 170-171, 297,
303). An administrative hearing was held on September 16, 2015, at which Plaintiff appeared
with counsel and testified. (Tr. 86-116).
By written decision dated November 3, 2015, the ALJ found that during the relevant
time period, Plaintiff had an impairment or combination of impairments that were severe. (Tr.
the ALJ found Plaintiff had the following severe impairme nts :
Musculoskeletal Disorder (Back Disorder, cervical degenerative disc disease); Endocrine
Disorder (Diabetes Mellitus); Cardiovascular Disorder (Hypertension); Neurological Disorder
(Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome); Special/Other Disorders (Obesity); and Mental Disorder (Mood
Disorders, depression). However, after reviewing all of the evidence presented, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff’s impairments did not meet or equal the level of severity of any
impairment listed in the Listing of Impairments found in Appendix I, Subpart P, Regulatio n
No. 4. (Tr. 73). The ALJ found Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to:
perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a)
except as follows: The claimant can frequently lift and/or carry less than ten
pounds, and occasionally ten pounds, sit for a total of six hours in an eight hour
workday, and stand and/or walk for a total of at least two hours in an eight hour
workday. The claimant is limited to jobs including simple tasks requiring
simple instructions. The claimant will require a job with only incidental contact
with the public.
(Tr. 76). With the help of a vocational expert, the ALJ determined Plaintiff could perform
work as an ordinance checkweigher, an almond blancher and a bench hand. (Tr. 81).
Plaintiff then requested a review of the hearing decision by the Appeals Council, which
after reviewing additional evidence submitted by Plaintiff, denied that request on September
28, 2016. (Tr. 1-7). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action. (Doc. 1). This case is before the
undersigned pursuant to the consent of the parties. (Doc. 6). Both parties have filed appeal
briefs, and the case is now ready for decision. (Docs. 12, 13).
This Court's role is to determine whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by
substantial evidence on the record as a whole. Ramirez v. Barnhart, 292 F.3d 576, 583 (8th
Cir. 2002). Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance but it is enough that a reasonable
mind would find it adequate to support the Commissioner's decision. The ALJ's decision must
be affirmed if the record contains substantial evidence to support it. Edwards v. Barnhart, 314
F.3d 964, 966 (8th Cir. 2003). As long as there is substantial evidence in the record that
supports the Commissioner's decision, the Court may not reverse it simply because substantia l
evidence exists in the record that would have supported a contrary outcome, or because the
Court would have decided the case differently. Haley v. Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747 (8th
Cir. 2001). In other words, if after reviewing the record it is possible to draw two inconsis te nt
positions from the evidence and one of those positions represents the findings of the ALJ, the
decision of the ALJ must be affirmed. Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065, 1068 (8th Cir. 2000).
The Court has reviewed the entire transcript and the parties’ briefs. For the reasons
stated in the ALJ’s well-reasoned opinion and the Government’s brief, the Court finds
Plaintiff’s arguments on appeal to be without merit and finds that the record as a whole reflects
substantial evidence to support the ALJ’s decision. Accordingly, the ALJ’s decision is hereby
summarily affirmed and Plaintiff’s Complaint is dismissed with prejudice.
See Sledge v.
Astrue, No. 08-0089, 2008 WL 4816675 (W.D. Mo. Oct. 31, 2008) (summarily affir ming
ALJ’s denial of disability benefits), aff’d, 364 Fed. Appx. 307 (8th Cir. 2010).
DATED this 14th day of February 2018.
/s/ Erin L. Wiedemann
HON. ERIN L. WIEDEMANN
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?