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Ireland v. Colvin

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

August 22, 2014

DANIEL IRELAND, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOE J. VOLPE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Wesley Ireland, appeals the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("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 August 8, 2011, Mr. Ireland protectively filed for DIB and SSI benefits due to severe scoliosis, a missing lung, asthma, and right ear deafness. (Tr. 200) Mr. Ireland's claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. At Mr. Ireland's request, an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") held a hearing on January 29, 2013, where Mr. Ireland appeared with his lawyer. (Tr. 21) At the hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from Mr. Ireland and a vocational expert ("VE"). (Tr. 22-42)

The ALJ issued a decision on March 15, 2013, finding that Mr. Ireland was not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 8-16) The Appeals Council denied Mr. Ireland's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. (Tr. 1-3)

Mr. Ireland, who was thirty-four years old at the time of the hearing, has a tenth grade education. (Tr. 26-27) He has past relevant work experience as a gas station attendant, metal products assembler, and sheet metal worker. (Tr. 14, 32)

II. DECISION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE[1]

The ALJ found that Mr. Ireland had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since August 8, 2011, and he had the following severe impairments: asthma, right ear deafness, degenerative disc disease, scoliosis, and a history of polysubstance abuse. (Tr. 10) However, the ALJ found that Mr. Ireland 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. 11)

According to the ALJ, Mr. Ireland has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to do light work, except that he is deaf in his right ear; can only occasionally climb, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; can have no exposure to temperature extremes, heavy chemicals, fumes, dusts, or heavy humidity; is limited to unskilled or low semiskilled activity; and can understand, remember, and carry out concrete instructions. (Tr. 11) The VE testified that the jobs available with these limitations were cafeteria attendant and price tagger. (Tr. 41)

After considering the VE's testimony, the ALJ determined that Mr. Ireland could perform a significant number of other jobs existing in the national economy, and found that Mr. Ireland 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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