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Gray v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division

September 15, 2014

TIMOTHY GRAY, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOE J. VOLPE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Timothy Gray, 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 April 9, 2012, Mr. Gray protectively filed for DIB and SSI benefits due to being unable to swallow, facial paralysis, right eye blindness, right ear deafness - all the residual effects of a gunshot wound to the face and head. (Tr. 174) Mr. Gray's claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. At Mr. Gray's request, an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") held a hearing on February 5, 2013, where Mr. Gray appeared with his lawyer. At the hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from Mr. Gray and a vocational expert ("VE"). (Tr. 36-75)

The ALJ issued a decision on March 25, 2013, finding that Mr. Gray was not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 15-31) The Appeals Council denied Mr. Gray's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. (Tr. 1-3)

Mr. Gray, who was thirty-one years old at the time of the hearing, has a high education and past relevant work experience as a roofer. (Tr. 69)

II. DECISION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE[1]

The ALJ found that Mr. Gray had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 3, 2012, and he had the following severe impairments: residuals of a gunshot wound to the right side of the head/face. (Tr. 17) However, the ALJ found that Mr. Gray 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. Gray has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to do the full range of work at all exertional levels, but because of the right eye blindness he would have diminished visual depth perception and must avoid work where excellent speech function is required. (Tr. 18) The VE testified that the jobs available with these limitations were scale operator and basket filler. (Tr. 70) Accordingly, the ALJ determined that Mr. Gray could perform a significant number of other jobs existing in the national economy, and found that Mr. Gray 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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