May v. Social Security Administration Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Honorable Erin L. Wiedemann on November 19, 2020. (lgd)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
SHANA LEANN MAY
CIVIL NO. 20-cv-05026
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner
Social Security Administration
Plaintiff, Shana Leann May, brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking
judicial review of a decision of the Commissioner of Social Security Administration
(Commissioner) denying her claims for a period of disability, disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) and supplemental security income (“SSI”) benefits under the provisions of Titles II
and XVI of the Social Security Act (the “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 applications for DIB and SSI on February 22, 2017. (Tr.
13). In her applications, Plaintiff alleged disability beginning on September 26, 2016, due to:
memory deficits; rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis; screws in her right ankle;
fibromyalgia; depression; anxiety; hypertension; right shoulder pain and weakness; chronic
pain; and low and mid back pain. (Tr. 13, 249). An administrative hearing was held on
September 13, 2018, at which Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified. (Tr. 38-74). A
vocational expert (“VE”) also testified. (Id.).
On January 2, 2019, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision. (Tr. 10-26). The ALJ
found that during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an impairment or combination of
impairments that were severe: residual injuries received in a motor vehicle accident—
compound fracture of the right ankle status post open reduction internal fixation (ORIF)
surgery with hardware, chronic lower back pain syndrome, general arthralgia (right shoulder
and low back), anxiety, and depression. (Tr. 15-16). However, after reviewing all of the
evidence presented, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff’s impairments did not meet or equal the
severity of any impairment listed in the Listing of Impairments found in 20 CFR Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 16-18). The ALJ found that Plaintiff retained the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to:
[P]erform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except
that the claimant is limited to jobs that involve simple tasks, simple instructions,
and only incidental contact with the public. For the purposes here, simple is
defined as 1, 2, and 3 steps.
The ALJ found Plaintiff would be unable to perform any of her past relevant work.
(Tr. 24). With the help of a vocational expert, the ALJ then determined that Plaintiff could
perform the representative occupations of power screw driver, can filling and closing machine
tender, or compression molding machine tender. (Tr. 24-25). The ALJ found Plaintiff was not
disabled from September 26, 2016, through the date of his decision. (Tr. 25).
Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action. (Doc. 2). 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, 14).
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).
Plaintiff brings three points on appeal: 1) Whether the ALJ erred by failing to fully and
fairly develop the record, specifically by failing to procure a rheumatological consultation; 2)
Whether the ALJ erred in his analysis of Plaintiff’s subjective complaints of pain; and 3)
Whether the ALJ erred in finding Plaintiff retained the RFC to perform a limited range of light
work. (Doc. 12). The Court has reviewed the entire transcript and the parties’ briefs. For the
reasons stated in the ALJ’s well-reasoned opinion and in the Government’s brief, the Court
finds Plaintiff’s arguments on appeal to be without merit and finds 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, 364 Fed. Appx. 307 (8th Cir. 2010)(district court summarily affirmed the
IT IS SO ORDERED this 19th day of November 2020.
/s/ Erin L. Wiedemann
HON. ERIN L. WIEDEMANN
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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