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Perrymore v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division

September 19, 2014

CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.


BARRY A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.

Buddy Jack Perrymore, Jr. ("Plaintiff") brings this action pursuant to § 205(g) of Title II of the Social Security Act ("The Act"), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2010), seeking judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("SSA") denying his applications for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"), Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB"), and a period of disability under Titles II and XVI of the Act.

The Parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate judge to conduct any and all proceedings in this case, including conducting the trial, ordering the entry of a final judgment, and conducting all post-judgment proceedings. ECF No. 11.[1] Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.

1. Background:

Plaintiff filed his original disability applications on March 13, 2008.[2] (Tr. 103-113). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to severe back pain; numbness in his legs and feet; back pain and back injury; inability to stand, walk, and sit for long periods of time; inability to lift heavy objects; randomly falling due to pain in his lower back; anxiety; depression; swollen legs and feet; bladder control problems; and obesity. (Tr. 438). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of January 18, 2008. (Tr. 103, 109). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 46-49). Thereafter, on July 6, 2009, the ALJ held an administrative hearing on Plaintiff's applications. (Tr. 24-45). After that hearing, on October 19, 2009, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications. (Tr. 12-23).

After being denied disability benefits, Plaintiff appealed to this Court. See Perrymore v. SSA, 2:11-cv-02239-BAB (ECF Nos. 12-13) (W. D. Ark. Dec. 20, 2012). Upon careful consideration of Plaintiff's claims, this Court reversed and remanded Plaintiff's case for further consideration of the Polaski factors, Polaski v. Heckler, 739 F.2d 1320 (8th Cir. 1984). Id.

To comply with this Court's remand order, the ALJ held a second administrative hearing on April 22, 2013 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. (Tr. 245-267). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, David Harp. (Tr. 245-267). Plaintiff and Vocational Expert ("VE") Larry Seifert testified at this hearing. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff testified he was thirty-one (31) years old, which is defined as a "younger person" under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c) (2008) (SSI) and 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (2008) (DIB). (Tr. 248). Plaintiff also testified he did not complete high school and had not obtained his GED. Id.

After this hearing, on July 3, 2013, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications for DIB and SSI. (Tr. 223-237). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2012. (Tr. 228, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity ("SGA") since January 18, 2008, his alleged onset date. (Tr. 228, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: massive obesity complicated by a history of lower back pain without radiculopathy or another significant neurological impairment. (Tr. 228-230, Finding 3). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or medically equal the requirements of any of the Listings of Impairments in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Regulations No. 4 ("Listings"). (Tr. 230, Finding 4).

In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 230-236, Finding 5). First, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and found his claimed limitations were not entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the full range of sedentary work. Id. The "full range of sedentary work" includes the following:

Sedentary work involves lifting no more than 10 pounds at a time and occasionally lifting or carrying articles like docket files, ledgers, and small tools. Although a sedentary job is defined as one which involves sitting, a certain amount of walking and standing is often necessary in carrying out job duties. Jobs are sedentary if walking and standing are required occasionally and other sedentary criteria are met.

20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(a) (DIB); 20 C.F.R. § 416.967(a) (SSI).

The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work ("PRW"). (Tr. 236, Finding 6). The ALJ determined Plaintiff's PRW included work as an order picker at a warehouse, an overnight stocker (retail), a "palletizer, " and a plastic machine operator. Id. Considering his RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was unable to perform his PRW. Id. The ALJ then determined whether Plaintiff retained the capacity for performing other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 236-237, Finding 10). In making this determination, the ALJ applied Rule 201.25 of the Medical-Vocational Guidelines or the "Grids." (Tr. 236-237, Finding 10). Based upon this Rule, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not be under a disability, as defined by the Act, from January 18, 2008 through the date of the his decision or through July 3, 2013. (Tr. 237, Finding 11). Thereafter, on September 18, 2013, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on October 8, 2013. ECF No. 11. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 13-14. This case is now ready for decision.

2. Applicable Law:

In reviewing this case, this Court is required to determine whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2010); Ramirez v. Barnhart, 292 F.3d 576, 583 (8th Cir. 2002). Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance of the evidence, but it is enough that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the Commissioner's decision. See Johnson v. Apfel, 240 F.3d 1145, 1147 (8th Cir. 2001). As long as there is substantial evidence in the record that supports the Commissioner's decision, the Court may not reverse it simply because substantial evidence exists in the record that would have supported a contrary outcome or because the Court would have decided the case differently. See Haley v. Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747 (8th Cir. 2001). If, after reviewing the record, it is ...

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