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Pearson v. Colvin

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

September 18, 2014

WILLIE PEARSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOE J. VOLPE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Willie Pearson, 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 10, 2011, Mr. Pearson protectively filed for DIB and SSI benefits due to vision and back problems, head injury and depression. (Tr. 146) Mr. Pearson's claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. At Mr. Pearson's request, an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") held a hearing on January 26, 2012, where Mr. Pearson appeared with his lawyer. At the hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from Mr. Pearson and a vocational expert ("VE"). (Tr. 43-62)

The ALJ issued a decision on March 8, 2012, finding that Mr. Pearson was not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 20-30) The Appeals Council denied Mr. Pearson's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. (Tr. 1-3)

Mr. Pearson, who was fifty-six years old at the time of the hearing, has a GED and past relevant work experience as a poultry hanger. (Tr. 46, 59)

II. DECISION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE[1]

The ALJ found that Mr. Pearson had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 15, 2008, and he had the following severe impairments: lumbago, chronic bronchitis, adjustment disorder with depressed mood, and history of head injury. (Tr. 23) However, the ALJ found that Mr. Pearson 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. 23)

According to the ALJ, Mr. Pearson has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to do medium work, but he could not be exposed to respiratory irritants. He is limited to work where the complexity of tasks can be learned by demonstration or repetition within one month; interaction with public is incidental to the work performed, with little judgment and few variables; and supervision required is simple, direct, and concrete. (Tr. 25) The VE testified that the jobs available with these limitations were kitchen helper and stocker. (Tr. 59) Accordingly, the ALJ determined that Mr. Pearson could perform a significant number of other jobs existing in the national economy, and found that he 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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