United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
BOBBY UNCEL, JR., Plaintiff.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.
BARRY A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.
Bobby Uncel, 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 application for a period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under Title II 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. 5. 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 current disability application on August 30, 2011. (Tr. 17, 121-123). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to a knee reconstruction, nerve injury, depression, side effects of his medication, arthritis, and memory loss. (Tr. 156). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 48-49).
Thereafter, on August 3, 2012, the ALJ held an administrative hearing on Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 31-47). This hearing was held in Texarkana, Arkansas. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Greg Giles. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert ("VE") Michael Foster Gartman testified at this hearing. (Tr. 31-47, 120). During this hearing, Plaintiff testified he was forty-one (41) years old, which is defined as a "younger person" under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (2008) (DIB). (Tr. 31-32). Plaintiff also testified he completed the twelfth grade in high school. (Tr. 34).
On September 5, 2012, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's disability application. (Tr. 14-26). The ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2015. (Tr. 18, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity ("SGA") since December 17, 2009, his alleged onset date. (Tr. 18, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction; depression; memory loss; arthritis; and a back injury. (Tr. 18-19, 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. 19, Finding 4).
In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 19-24, 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 following:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned assigns to the claimant a residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a), as the claimant is able to lift, carry, push, or pull ten pounds occasionally; is able to stand or walk up to two hours in an eight-hour workday; and is able to sit for up to six hours in an eight-hour workday. However, the claimant can never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds and can only occasionally climb ramps or stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl.
The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work ("PRW") and found Plaintiff was unable to perform any of his PRW. (Tr. 24-25, Finding 6). The ALJ then determined whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in national economy. (Tr. 25-26). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id. Based upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the following occupations: (1) lens inserter (sedentary, unskilled) with 650 such jobs in the region and 28, 000 such jobs in the United States; (2) polisher, eyeglass frames (sedentary, unskilled) with 600 such jobs in the region and 81, 000 such jobs in the United States; and (3) escort-vehicle driver (sedentary, unskilled) with 1, 300 such jobs in the region and 140, 000 such jobs in the United States. Id. Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this other work, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from December 17, 2009 through the date of the ALJ's decision or through September 5, 2012. (Tr. 26, Finding 11).
Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the review of the Appeals Council. (Tr. 13). On December 3, 2013, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-3). Plaintiff then filed his Complaint in this case on December 5, 2013. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on December 5, 2013. ECF No. 5. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 10-11. 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 ...