United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
WILLIAM J. HAMILTON, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.
BARRY A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.
William J. Hamilton ("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. 8. Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.
Plaintiff protectively filed his disability applications on May 24, 2011. (Tr. 12, 120-127). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to diabetes, high blood pressure, vision problems, leg pain, and memory problems. (Tr. 180). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of January 1, 2008. (Tr. 12, 120). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 49-52).
Thereafter, on May 21, 2012, the ALJ held an administrative hearing on Plaintiff's applications. (Tr. 23-48). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Mr. Charles Padgham. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert ("VE") Mr. Hindry testified at the hearing in this matter. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff testified he was sixty (60) years old, which is defined as a "person of advanced age." See 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(e) (2008) (SSI) and 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(e) (2008) (DIB). (Tr. 27). Plaintiff also testified he only completed the eighth grade in school. (Tr. 29).
After that hearing, on August 17, 2012, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications. (Tr. 9-19). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2015. (Tr. 14, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity ("SGA") since February 1, 2011, his amended alleged onset date. (Tr. 14, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: hypertension and diabetes. (Tr. 14-16, 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.16, Finding 4).
In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 16-18, 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 a wide range of medium work:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform a wide range of medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) and 416.967(c). The residual functional capacity produced by the medically determinable impairments permits the claimant to lift and/or carry 50 pounds occasionally and 25 pounds frequently, stand/walk/sit for 6 hours of an 8-hour workday, and unlimited push/pull (including operation of hand/foot controls). He could perform postural functions at least frequently.
The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work ("PRW"). (Tr. 18, Finding 6). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. (Tr. 18). Based upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff's PRW included work as a "truck driver of sand and gravel" (medium, unskilled), "tractor trailer truck driver" (medium, semiskilled), and "egg room worker" (medium, semiskilled). Id. The VE also testified, considering Plaintiff's RFC, Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this PRW. Id. The ALJ adopted this testimony. Id. Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform his PRW, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was not disabled, as defined by the Act, from January 1, 2008 through the date of his decision or through August 17, 2012. (Tr. 19, Finding 7).
On August 23, 2012, Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the ALJ's unfavorable decision. (Tr. 7). On October 10, 2013, the Appeals Council denied that request. (Tr. 1-3). Plaintiff appealed the ALJ's decision on November 1, 2013. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on November 21, 2013. ECF No. 8. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 11-12. 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 ...