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Adams v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

July 21, 2015

JOHNNY ADAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

BARRY A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.

Johnny Adams ("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 disability applications on July 19, 2012. (Tr. 140-149). In his applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and polycythemia vera. (Tr. 183). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of March 1, 2010. (Tr. 11). Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 140-146).

Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 92-93, 106-113). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on August 21, 2013 in Texarkana, Arkansas. (Tr. 26-43). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Greg Giles. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert ("VE") Jerry Hillberry testified at this hearing. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff testified he was forty-one (41) years old. (Tr. 30). This age qualifies as a "younger person" under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c) (2008) (SSI) and under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (2008) (DIB). As for his education, Plaintiff also testified he had only completed the eighth grade in school. Id.

On September 23, 2013, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's disability applications. (Tr. 8-21). 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 determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity ("SGA") since September 30, 2010[2], his alleged onset date. (Tr. 13, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: polycythemia, insomnia, sleep apnea, and benign hypertension with a history of congestive heart failure. (Tr. 13, Finding 3). The ALJ also determined, however, that 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. 13, Finding 4).

In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his Residual Functional Capacity ("RFC"). (Tr. 14, 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 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: no climbing ladders, ropes or scaffolds. The claimant is also to avoid exposure to unprotected heights and hazardous moving machinery.

Id.

The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work ("PRW"). (Tr. 20, Finding 6). Considering his RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform his PRW as a drywall worker and as a self-employed framer as those jobs were actually performed. Id. Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this PRW, the ALJ determined he had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from March 1, 2010 through the date of his decision or through September 23, 2013. (Tr. 21, Finding 7).

Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the review of the Appeals Council. (Tr. 7). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (Tr. 1-3). On November 21, 2014, Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this matter. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on November 21, 2014. ECF No. 5. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 10-11. 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 ...


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