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McGonigal v. Colvin

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

December 23, 2014

MICHAEL McGONIGAL, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOE J. VOLPE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Michael McGonigal, appeals the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying his claims for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act and for supplemental security income benefits under Title XVI of the Act. For reasons set out below, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.

I. BACKGROUND

On May 4, 2011, Mr. McGonigal protectively filed for benefits due to curvature of the spine, scoliosis, back pain, learning problems, and vision problems. (Tr. 136) His claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. At Mr. McGonigal's request, an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") held a hearing on November 28, 2012, where Mr. McGonigal appeared with his lawyer. At the hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from Mr. McGonigal. (Tr. 25-35)

The ALJ issued a decision on March 8, 2013, finding that Mr. McGonigal was not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 10-18) The Appeals Council denied Mr. McGonigal's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. (Tr. 1-3)

Mr. McGonigal, who was thirty years old at the time of the hearing, has an eighth grade education and past relevant work experience as a cook and fast food worker. (Tr. 27-29)

II. DECISION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE[1]

The ALJ found that Mr. McGonigal had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since December 31, 2010, and he had the following severe impairments: back pain, obesity, and anxiety. (Tr. 12) However, the ALJ found that Mr. McGonigal 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. 13)

According to the ALJ, Mr. McGonigal has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to do medium work, except that he is limited to unskilled work where interpersonal contact is incidental to the work performed, complexity of tasks is learned and performed by rote. There must be few variables, little judgment, and the supervision required is simple, direct, and concrete. (Tr. 14) The ALJ found that Mr. McGonigal could perform his past relevant work as a fast food worker, and was not disabled. (Tr. 17)

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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