Harned v. Social Security Administration Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Honorable Erin L. Wiedemann on August 6, 2019. (tg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
KAREN B. HARNED
CIVIL NO. 5:18-CV-5115
ANDREW M. SAUL, 1 Commissioner,
Social Security Administration
Plaintiff, Karen Harned, 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 claim for supplemental security income (SSI) under the
provisions of Title 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 application for SSI on November 13, 2015,
alleging an inability to work since June 10, 2015, due to anxiety, depression, histiocytosis, high
blood pressure, hypertension, and Hepatitis C. (Tr. 55, 69). An administrative video hearing
was held on March 29, 2017, at which Plaintiff and Jason Price Harned, Plaintiff’s husband,
testified. (Tr. 30-54).
Nancy A. Berryhill, has been appointed to serve as acting Commissioner of Social Security, and is substituted as
Defendant, pursuant to Rule 25(d)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
By written decision dated August 14, 2017, the ALJ found that during the relevant time
period, Plaintiff had severe impairments of anxiety, personality disorder, hypertension,
myalgias, and respiratory disorders. (Tr. 16). However, after reviewing all of the evidence
presented, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff’s impairment did not meet or equal the level of
severity of any impairment listed in the Listing of Impairments found in Appendix I, Subpart
P, Regulation No. 4. (Tr. 17). The ALJ found that Plaintiff retained the residual functional
capacity (RFC) to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b), except that Plaintiff
was limited to simple, routine, and repetitive tasks in a setting where interpersonal contact was
incidental to work performed; Plaintiff could respond to supervision that was simple, direct,
and concrete; and Plaintiff should avoid concentrated exposure to pulmonary irritants like
dusts, odors, and gases. (Tr. 18-19). With the help of a vocational expert (VE), the ALJ
determined that while Plaintiff was unable to perform any past relevant work, there were jobs
that existed in significant numbers in the economy that Plaintiff could perform, such as a
marker, a garment sorter, and a router. (Tr. 22-23). Therefore, the ALJ concluded that the
Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, since November
13, 2015, through the date of the decision. (Tr. 23).
Plaintiff then requested a review of the hearing decision by the Appeals Council, and
that request was denied on May 15, 2018. (Tr. 1-6). 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. 14, 15).
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 substantial
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 inconsistent
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 affirming
ALJ’s denial of disability benefits), aff’d, 364 Fed. Appx. 307 (8th Cir. 2010).
IT IS SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED this 6th day of August, 2019.
/s/ Erin L. Wiedemann
HON. ERIN L. WIEDEMANN
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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