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Dempsey v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Northern Division

August 21, 2014

NATHAN DEMPSEY, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOE J. VOLPE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Nathan Dempsey, appeals the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the "Commissioner") denying his claims for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") under Title II of the Social Security Act (the "Act") and for supplemental security income ("SSI") benefits under Title XVI of the Act. For reasons set out below, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.

I. BACKGROUND

On May 4, 2011, Mr. Dempsey protectively filed for DIB and SSI benefits due to stage 3 congestive heart failure, atrial fib, severe migraines, and ADHD. (Tr. 143) His claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. At Mr. Dempsey's request, an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") held a hearing on June 21, 2012, where Mr. Dempsey appeared with his lawyer. (Tr. 26) At the hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from Mr. Dempsey and a vocational expert ("VE"). (Tr. 27-46)

The ALJ issued a decision on July 27, 2012, finding that Mr. Dempsey was not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 11-20) The Appeals Council denied Mr. Dempsey's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. (Tr. 1-3)

Mr. Dempsey, who was thirty-one years old at the time of the hearing, has a high school education. (Tr. 34) He has past relevant work experience as a chemical environmental specialist, building maintenance helper, welder, and livestock loader/herder. (Tr. 31-32)

II. DECISION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE[1]

The ALJ found that Mr. Dempsey had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 25, 2011, and he had the following severe impairments: atrial fibrillation status post ablations, idiopathic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, migraines, obstructive sleep apnea, and adjustment disorder. (Tr. 13) However, the ALJ found that Mr. Dempsey did not have an impairment or combination of impairments meeting or equaling an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.[2] (Tr. 14)

According to the ALJ, Mr. Dempsey has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to do sedentary work, except that he could push and/or pull ten pounds occasionally and less than ten pounds frequently. The ALJ noted that he is "able mentally to understand, remember, and carry out detailed but not complex instructions; make judgments in simple, work-related situations up to managing time, resources, and materials; and is able to respond appropriately to coworkers, supervisors, and minor changes in the usual work routine. (Tr. 16) The VE testified that the jobs available with these limitations were payroll clerk, insurance clerk, and billing and posting clerk. (Tr. 44-45)

After considering the VE's testimony, the ALJ determined that Mr. Dempsey could perform a significant number of other jobs existing in the national economy, and found that Mr. Dempsey was not disabled.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Standard of Review

In reviewing the Commissioner's decision, this Court must determine whether there is substantial evidence in the record as a whole to support the decision.[3] Substantial evidence is "less than a preponderance, but sufficient for reasonable minds to find it adequate to support the decision."[4]

In reviewing the record as a whole, the Court must consider both evidence that detracts from the Commissioner's decision and evidence that supports the decision; but, the decision cannot be reversed, "simply ...


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