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Cypress v. Colvin

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

December 7, 2015

Nevida Cypress, Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant - Appellee

Submitted September 23, 2015

Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas - Jonesboro.

For Nevida Cypress, Plaintiff - Appellant: Anthony W. Bartels, Attorney, Jonesboro, AR; Eugene Gregory Wallace, Campbell University School of Law, Raleigh, NC.

For Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant - Appellee: Corey Fazekas, Stuart Lipke, Assistant Regional Counsel, Michael McGaughran, Angeline S. Reese, Assistant Regional Counsel, Social Security Administration, Office of General Counsel Region VI, Dallas, TX; Stacey E. McCord, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Arkansas, Little Rock, AR.

Before LOKEN, BEAM, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 949

SHEPHERD, Circuit Judge.

Nevida Cypress appeals the district court's[1] order upholding the denial of supplemental security income (SSI) and disability insurance benefits (DIB). Upon de novo review of the district court's decision upholding the Administrative Law Judge's

Page 950

(ALJ's) denial of benefits, see Anderson v. Astrue, 696 F.3d 790, 793 (8th Cir. 2012), we affirm.

Cypress worked as a school janitor until June 30, 2011. She filed her application for SSI and DIB in July 2011, initially claiming disability based on carpal tunnel syndrome and depression. After her application was denied at the initial and reconsideration levels, she received a hearing before the ALJ. The ALJ found that Cypress was not disabled, and the Appeals Council denied her request for review, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. See Davidson v. Astrue, 501 F.3d 987, 989 (8th Cir. 2007). Cypress sought judicial review of the Commissioner's determination, and the district court affirmed the Commissioner's decision.

To determine disability, the ALJ followed the familiar five-step process and determined: (1) Cypress had not engaged in substantial gainful employment since her alleged onset date; (2) Cypress had the following severe impairments: bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, degenerative disc disease, sleep apnea, diabetes mellitus with neuropathy, degenerative joint disease, obesity, anxiety, and depression; (3) she did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets, or is comparable to, a listed impairment; (4) she could not perform her past relevant work as a school janitor which requires a medium exertional level; and (5) she retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform light exertional work such as housekeeping or cafeteria attendant. See Travis v. Astrue, 477 F.3d 1037, 1040 (8th Cir. 2007) (citing 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4); 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)). As a result, the ALJ determined she was not disabled and was not entitled to benefits.

In this appeal, she argues the Commissioner's decision that she can perform light work is not supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole and that the RFC determination should have included additional manipulative restrictions due to her diagnosis of severe carpal tunnel syndrome. We will affirm the Commissioner's decision if it is supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole. See Jones v. Astrue, 619 F.3d 963, 968 (8th Cir. 2010). Substantial evidence is " less than a preponderance but . . . enough that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the conclusion." Id. (quotation omitted). In evaluating for substantial evidence, we " consider the evidence that supports the Commissioner's decision as well as the evidence that detracts from it." Id. (quotation omitted). If, after reviewing the entire record, it is possible to draw two inconsistent positions, and the Commissioner has adopted one of those positions, we must affirm. See id.

As to her first argument, Cypress claims that the ALJ's RFC determination that she could perform the standing and walking requirements of light work--a total of six hours of an eight-hour workday--is not supported by substantial evidence in the record. Cypress argues the medical evidence documents her ...


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