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McKenzie v. Colvin

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

March 1, 2016

RON McKENZIE, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

JOE J. VOLPE, Magistrate Judge.

INSTRUCTIONS

This recommended disposition has been submitted to United States District Judge James M. Moody, Jr. The parties may file specific objections to these findings and recommendations and must provide the factual or legal basis for each objection. The objections must be filed with the Clerk no later than fourteen (14) days from the date of the findings and recommendations. A copy must be served on the opposing party. The District Judge, even in the absence of objections, may reject these proposed findings and recommendations in whole or in part.

RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

Plaintiff, Ron McKenzie, has appealed the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration to deny his claim for disability insurance benefits. Both parties have submitted briefs and the case is ready for a decision. After carefully considering the record as a whole, for the following reasons, I find the decision of the Commissioner is supported by substantial evidence.

A court's function on review is to determine whether the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole and free of legal error. Slusser v. Astrue, 557 F.3d 923, 925 (8th Cir. 2009); Long v. Chater, 108 F.3d 185, 187 (8th Cir. 1997); see also 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 405(g), 1383(c)(3). Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Reynolds v. Chater, 82 F.3d 254, 257 (8th Cir. 1996).

In assessing the substantiality of the evidence, courts must consider evidence that detracts from the Commissioner's decision as well as evidence that supports it; a court may not, however, reverse the Commissioner's decision merely because substantial evidence would have supported an opposite decision. Sultan v. Barnhart, 368 F.3d 857, 863 (8th Cir. 2004); Woolf v. Shalala, 3 F.3d 1210, 1213 (8th Cir. 1993). After careful review of the pleadings and evidence in this case, I find the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence and recommend the Complaint be DISMISSED.

Plaintiff is fifty-one years old. (Tr. 40) He is a high school graduate and attended some college. ( Id. ) He has past relevant work as a call center operator, automobile detailer, and retail stocker. (Tr. 31)

Plaintiff alleges he is disabled due to diabetes and blindness. (Tr. 77) The ALJ[1] found Mr. McKenzie had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 18, 2012, the alleged onset date. (Tr. 25) He has "severe" impairments in the form of diabetes mellitus type 1, and visual impairment. ( Id. ) The ALJ further found Mr. McKenzie 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. 26)

The ALJ determined Mr. McKenzie had the residual functional capacity to perform a reduced range of light work given his visual impairment. ( Id. ) With the aid of a vocational expert, the ALJ determined Mr. McKenzie could perform his past work as a call center operator despite his impairments. (Doc. No. 73) Accordingly, the ALJ determined Mr. McKenzie was not disabled. (Tr. 31)

The Appeals Council[3] denied Plaintiff's request for a review of the ALJ's decision, making his decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-4) Plaintiff filed the instant Complaint initiating this appeal. (Doc. No. 2)

Plaintiff disagrees with the ALJ's credibility assessment. The ALJ considered Plaintiff's subjective complaints in light of Social Security Ruling 96-7p. (Tr. 29-31) That ruling tracks Polaski v. Heckler, 739 F.2d 1320 (8th Cir. 1984), which states:

The absence of an objective medical basis which supports the degree of severity of subjective complaints alleged is just one factor to be considered in evaluating the credibility of the testimony and complaints. The adjudicator must give full consideration to all of the evidence presented relating to subjective complaints, including the claimant's prior work record, and ...

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