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Jones v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division

July 14, 2015

BRUCE JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

BETH DEERE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Bruce Jones appeals the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the "Commissioner") denying his claims for Disability Insurance benefits ("DIB") under Title II of the Social Security Act (the "Act"). For reasons set out below, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.

I. Background

On May 7, 2013, Mr. Jones protectively filed for DIB benefits due to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), pins in ankle, pins in elbow, depression, and sleep apnea. (Tr. 204) Mr. Jones's claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. At Mr. Jones's request, an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") held a hearing on August 23, 2013, where Mr. Jones appeared with his lawyer. At the hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from Mr. Jones and a vocational expert ("VE"). (Tr. 38-89)

The ALJ issued a decision on October 20, 2014, finding that Mr. Jones was not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 10-24) On November 4, 2014, the Appeals Council denied Mr. Jones's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. (Tr. 1-3)

Mr. Jones, who was fifty-six years old at the time of the hearing, has a degree from a vocational college and past relevant work experience as a furniture assembler, industrial maintenance helper, machine feeder, and meter reader. (Tr. 41-42, 81-82)

II. Decision of the Administrative Law Judge[1]

The ALJ found that Mr. Jones had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since September 22, 2009, and that he had the following severe impairments: status-post fractured left ankle, arthritis in the left ankle and left elbow, sleep apnea, PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and depression. (Tr. 12) The ALJ also found that Mr. Jones 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.[2] (Tr. 14)

According to the ALJ, Mr. Jones had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform medium work that involves only occasional stooping, crouching, bending, crawling and balancing, but no climbing ladders, ropes, or scaffolding. The work could involve frequent overhead reaching with the non-dominant upper extremity. The work would need to be simple, routine, and repetitive, with only occasional contact with coworkers and supervisors; no contact with the general public. The supervision required would be simple, direct, and concrete (Tr. 15) The VE testified that an individual with these limitations could work as a store laborer, and commercial laundry worker. (Tr. 87-88)

After considering the VE's testimony and other evidence, the ALJ determined that Mr. Jones could perform a significant number of other jobs existing in the national economy and found, therefore, that Mr. Jones was not disabled.

III. Analysis

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. Boettcher v. Astrue, 652 F.3d 860, 863 (8th Cir. 2011); 42 U.S.C. ยง 405(g). Substantial evidence is "less than a preponderance, but sufficient for reasonable minds to find it adequate to support the decision." Id. (citing Guilliams v. Barnhart, 393 F.3d 798, 801 (8th Cir. 2005)).

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 because some evidence may support the opposite conclusion." ...


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