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2011-UP-330 - Freeman v. SCBCB

THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE.  IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 268(d)(2), SCACR.

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals

Clarene Freeman, Appellant,

v.

South Carolina Budget and Control Board, Employee Insurance Program, Respondent.


Appeal From the Administrative Law Court
Ralph K. Anderson, III, Administrative Law Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2011-UP-330
Submitted June 1, 2011 – Filed June 27, 2011   


AFFIRMED


Mark D. Ball and M. League Boylston, both of Hampton, for Appellant.

James T. Hedgepath, of Greenville; and Michael T. Brittingham, of Columbia, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM: Clarene Freeman appeals the administrative law court's (ALC) order, which affirmed the Employee Insurance Program's (the Insurance Program) denial of her claim for long-term disability benefits.  On appeal, Freeman argues the denial of her claim was arbitrary and capricious and clearly erroneous in light of the substantial evidence presented. We affirm.[1]

This court will affirm the decision of the ALC if it is supported by substantial evidence.  S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-380(5) (Supp. 2010).  However, this court may reverse or modify a decision if it is affected by an error of law or is arbitrary or capricious.  § 1-23-380(5)(d), (f).  "Substantial evidence is not a mere scintilla of evidence, but evidence which, considering the record as a whole, would allow reasonable minds to reach the conclusion the agency reached." Converse Power Corp. v. S.C. Dep't of Health & Envtl. Control, 350 S.C. 39, 46, 564 S.E.2d 341, 345 (Ct. App. 2002).  "The court may not substitute its judgment for the judgment of the agency as to the weight of the evidence on questions of fact."  § 1-23-380(5). 

Although Freeman presented evidence that she suffered from several chronic illnesses, we hold substantial evidence exists to support a finding that these illnesses do not preclude her from performing the material duties of her job.  See Wilson v. State Budget & Control Bd. Emp. Ins. Program,  374 S.C. 300, 305-06, 648 S.E.2d 310, 313 (Ct. App. 2007) (finding this court must affirm the agency's decision when substantial evidence exists refuting claimant's disability claims by several physicians). 

With regards to Freeman's lower back pain, the medical evidence supports a finding that Freeman suffered from degenerative disc disease.  However, several physicians opined the pain was not so severe as to impair Freeman from performing her sedentary job duties with the appropriate modifications.  The medical records did not show Freeman needed aggressive pain management, and the medical evidence indicated that Freeman's pain had improved some through steroid injections and medial blocks.  Freeman's treating physician believed Freeman only suffered from a moderate impairment in July 2006 and was capable of taking short walks, sitting for a while, driving some, and reaching briefly.  Additionally, substantial evidence supports the ALC's finding that Freeman's osteoarthritis in the knee, monocular eye blindness, diabetes, and depression do not limit Freeman's ability to work.  Accordingly, the ALC's decision is

AFFIRMED.

SHORT, KONDUROS, and GEATHERS, JJ., concur.


[1] We decide this case without oral argument pursuant to Rule 215, SCACR.