United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Northern Division
SHAWN G. RUTH, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
JOE J. VOLPE, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff, Shawn Ruth, 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.
On June 27, 2011, Mr. Ruth protectively filed for benefits due to his bad back, crushed vertebra, degenerative disc disease, depression, and memory loss. (Tr. 188) His claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. At Mr. Ruth's request, an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") held a hearing on February 8, 2013, where Mr. Ruth appeared with his lawyer. At the hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from Mr. Ruth and a vocational expert ("VE"). (Tr. 34-79)
The ALJ issued a decision on April 5, 2013, finding that Mr. Ruth was not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 11-28) The Appeals Council denied Mr. Ruth's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. (Tr. 1-3)
Mr. Ruth, who was fifty years old at the time of the hearing, has a GED and past relevant work experience as a driver (dump truck, concrete, over-the-road, delivery), fork lift operator, and front-end-loader operator. (Tr. 41, 43, 69)
II. DECISION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE
The ALJ found that Mr. Ruth had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since June 20, 2008, and had the following severe impairments: lumbar and cervical degenerative disc disease, obesity, and mood disorder. (Tr. 13) However, the ALJ found that Mr. Ruth 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. (Tr. 15)
According to the ALJ, Mr. Ruth has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to do light work, but he can only occasionally use bilateral upper extremity to push or pull and is limited to work that is simple, routine, repetitive, and tasks where interpersonal contact is only incidental to work performed. Supervision is simple, direct, and concrete. (Tr. 18) The VE testified that jobs available with these limitations were office helper and poultry deboner. (Tr. 71) Accordingly, the ALJ determined that Mr. Ruth could perform a significant number of other jobs existing in the national economy, and found he was not disabled.
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. Substantial evidence is "less than a preponderance, but sufficient for reasonable minds to find it adequate to support the decision."
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 ...