United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
BARRY A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.
Terril Cash ("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. 7. Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.
Plaintiff filed his disability applications on December 2, 2010. (Tr. 271-286). In his applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to high blood pressure, anxiety, traumatic brain injury, and back pain. (Tr. 302). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of December 18, 2007. (Tr. 106). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 149-198).
Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his denied applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 121-148). On November 28, 2012, the ALJ held an administrative hearing to address Plaintiff's applications. Id. This hearing was held in Charlotte, North Carolina. Id. Plaintiff was present at this hearing and was represented by H. Kent Crowe. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert ("VE") Katherine Mooney testified at this hearing. Id. At the time of this hearing, Plaintiff testified he has a high school education. (Tr. 139).
After this hearing, on January 11, 2013, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications for DIB and SSI. (Tr. 103-116). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through June 30, 2008. (Tr. 108, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity ("SGA") since December 18, 2007, his alleged onset date. (Tr. 108, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: status post traumatic brain injury, degenerative disease of the lumbar spine, hypertension, and generalized anxiety disorder. (Tr. 108-110, Finding 3). However, 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. 110-111, Finding 4). The ALJ determined Plaintiff was forty-five (45) years old on his alleged onset date. (Tr. 115, Finding 7). This is defined as a "younger person" under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c) (2008) (SSI) and 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (2008) (DIB). Id.
In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 111-114, 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 light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except he is limited to occasional climbing of ladders and he must avoid concentrated exposure to hazards. He is also limited to simple, routine, repetitive tasks in a stable environment at a nonproduction pace.
The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work ("PRW") and found Plaintiff had no PRW he could perform. (Tr. 114-115, Finding 6). The ALJ then determined whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 115-116, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id. Considering his age, education, work experience, and RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the following representative occupations: (1) Storage Facility Rental Clerk with 4, 685 such jobs in North Carolina and 180, 000 such jobs nationwide; (2) Sales Attendant with 5, 100 such jobs in North Carolina and 556, 000 such jobs nationwide; and (3) Parking Lot Cashier with 1, 300 such jobs in North Carolina and 42, 500 such jobs nationwide. (Tr. 115-116, Finding 10). 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 18, 2007 through the date of the ALJ's decision or through January 11, 2013. (Tr. 116, Finding 11).
Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the ALJ's unfavorable decision. On February 24, 2014, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-3). Plaintiff then filed the present appeal on March 13, 2014. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on March 19, 2014. ECF No. 7. 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 ...