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White v. Colvin

United States District Court, Western District of Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

March 16, 2015

KAEMEL WHITE PLAINTIFF
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

MEMORANDUM OPINION

HON. BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

Kaemel White (“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. 5.[1] Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.

1. Background:

Plaintiff protectively filed his current disability applications on June 23, 2010. (Tr. 14). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to bipolar disorder and manic depression. (Tr. 152). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of April 1, 2009. (Tr. 14). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 38-41).

After Plaintiff’s applications were denied, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 60-84). Thereafter, on November 29, 2012, the ALJ held an administrative hearing on Plaintiff’s applications. (Tr. 343-396). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Shannon Muse Carroll. Id. Plaintiff, Vocational Expert (“VE”) Dianna Smith, and two witnesses for Plaintiff testified at this hearing. Id. During this hearing, Plaintiff testified he was thirty-two (32) years old, which 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). (Tr. 348). As for his education, Plaintiff testified he has a bachelor’s degree in general studies. (Tr. 348-349).

On January 4, 2013, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff’s applications. (Tr. 14-26). The ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through March 31, 2011. (Tr. 16, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since his alleged onset date of April 1, 2009. (Tr. 17, Finding 3). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairment: bipolar disorder. (Tr. 17, Finding 4). 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. 17-18, Finding 5).

In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff’s subjective complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 18-24, Finding 6). 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 finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations: he is limited to unskilled work. This is work where interpersonal contact is incidental to the work performed; the complexity of tasks is learned and performed by rote; contains few variables and requires little judgment; and any supervision required is simple, direct, and concrete.

Id.

The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff’s Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and found Plaintiff had no PRW. (Tr. 24, Finding 7). The ALJ then evaluated whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 25, Finding 11). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id. Considering Plaintiff’s RFC, PRW, education, and age, the VE testified Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform representative occupations such as the following: (1) poultry hanger (unskilled, medium) with 2, 500 such jobs in Arkansas and 450, 000 such jobs in the nation; (2) machine feeder (unskilled) with 3, 200 such jobs in Arkansas and 550, 000 such jobs in the nation; (3) warehouse worker (unskilled) with 1, 100 such jobs in Arkansas and 320, 000 such jobs in the nation; and (4) laundry worker (unskilled, medium) with “thousands of these jobs in the national economy.” Id. Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this other work, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined in the Act, at any time from April 1, 2009 (alleged onset date) through January 4, 2013 (date of ALJ’s decision). (Tr. 25, Finding 12).

Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the review of the Appeals Council. (Tr. 10). On February 18, 2014, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 6-8). On April 3, 2014, Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this matter. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on April 3, 2014. ECF No. 5. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 11-12. 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 ...


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