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Hill v. Colvin

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

August 26, 2014

LAWRENCE HILL, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOE J. VOLPE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Lawrence Hill, appeals the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the "Commissioner") denying his claims for supplemental security income ("SSI") benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (the "Act"). For reasons set out below, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.

I. BACKGROUND

On February 25, 2011, Mr. Hill protectively filed for SSI benefits due to emphysema, COPD, asthma, hepatitis C, back pain, and a regurgitating heart valve. (Tr. 127) Mr. Hill's claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. At Mr. Hill's request, an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") held a hearing on July 25, 2012 where Mr. Hill appeared with his lawyer. (Tr. 22) At the hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from Mr. Hill and a vocational expert ("VE"). (Tr. 23-49)

The ALJ issued a decision on August 28, 2012, finding that Mr. Hill was not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 10-17) The Appeals Council denied Mr. Hill's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. (Tr. 1-3)

Mr. Hill, who was forty-six years old at the time of the hearing, has a seventh grade education. (Tr. 24) He has past relevant work experience as a tractor operator, food loader, sauce mixer, construction worker, and poultry hanger. (Tr. 39-40)

II. DECISION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE[1]

The ALJ found that Mr. Hill had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since February 25, 2011, and he had the following severe impairments: emphysema/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and multilevel lumbar degenerative disc disease. (Tr. 12) However, the ALJ found that Mr. Hill 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. 12)

According to the ALJ, Mr. Hill has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to do light work, except that he is limited to work in an indoor environment which avoids exposure to excessive dust, smoke, fumes, or other pulmonary irritants. He is also limited to simple, routine, and repetitive tasks under supervision that is simple, direct, and concrete. (Tr. 13) The VE testified that the jobs available with these limitations were cashier II, office helper, and retail sales attendant. (Tr. 41)

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