United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
DAVID C. THOMPSON, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.
BARRY A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.
David C. Thompson ("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 Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and a period of disability 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. 6. 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 application on February 22, 2012. (Tr. 11, 105-111). In his application, Plaintiff claims to be disabled due to the following: neck problems, "fingers number [numb] on right hand, " shoulder problems, right hip problems, and a "big knot" in his stomach. (Tr. 153). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of June 1, 2010. (Tr. 11, 105). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 49-50). Plaintiff then requested an administrative hearing on his application, and his hearing request was granted. (Tr.
Thereafter, the ALJ held an administrative hearing on January 10, 2013 in Texarkana, Arkansas. (Tr. 25-48). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Greg Giles. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert ("VE") Russell B. Bowden testified at this hearing. Id. At the time of his hearing, Plaintiff testified he was fifty-five (55) years old, which is defined as a "person of advanced age" under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(e) (2008). (Tr. 29-30). As far as education, Plaintiff only completed the tenth grade in school. (Tr. 31).
After this hearing, on February 15, 2013, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for DIB. (Tr. 8-19). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2015. (Tr. 13, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity ("SGA") since June 1, 2010, his alleged onset date. (Tr. 13, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairment: right hip osteoarthritis (OA). (Tr. 13-14, Finding 3). However, the ALJ also determined Plaintiff's impairment 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. 14, Finding 4).
In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 14-18, 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 RFC to perform the following:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c). He can lift and carry 50 pounds occasionally and 25 pounds frequently; sit, stand and walk 6-hours of an 8-hour workday.
The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work ("PRW"). (Tr. 18-19, Finding 6). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding Plaintiff's PRW. Id. The VE testified Plaintiff's PRW included work as an autobody repairman. Id. The VE testified Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this PRW as "it as [is] actually and generally performed." Id. Based upon this finding, and because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform his PRW, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined in the Act, from June 1, 2010 through the date of his decision or through February 15, 2013. (Tr. 19, Finding 7).
Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the ALJ's unfavorable decision. (Tr. 24). On December 13, 2013, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-4). Plaintiff then filed the present appeal on January 14, 2014. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on January 14, 2014. ECF No. 6. 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) (2006); 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 possible to draw two inconsistent positions from the evidence and one of those positions represents the findings of the ALJ, the decision of the ALJ must be affirmed. See Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065, 1068 (8th Cir. 2000).
It is well-established that a claimant for Social Security disability benefits has the burden of proving his or her disability by establishing a physical or mental disability that lasted at least one year and that prevents him or her from engaging in any substantial gainful activity. See Cox v. Apfel, 160 F.3d 1203, 1206 (8th Cir. 1998); 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). The Act defines a "physical or mental impairment" as "an impairment that results from anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities which are demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques." 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(3), ...