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Robertson v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division

March 8, 2016

MARC R. ROBERTSON PLAINTIFF
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

Marc R. Robertson (“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 application for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title II 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:

On February 18, 2014, Plaintiff filed his SSI application. (Tr. 52). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to Hepatitis C, back problems, arthritis, heart problems, and high blood pressure. (Tr. 230). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of December 1, 2009. (Tr. 52). Plaintiff’s application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 97-109).

Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his application. (Tr. 132). This hearing request was granted, and an administrative hearing was held in Fort Smith, Arkansas on September 16, 2014. (Tr. 67-96). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Michael Harry. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Sarah Moore testified at this hearing. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff testified he was forty-seven (47) years old, which qualifies as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c) (2008). (Tr. 73). During this hearing, Plaintiff also testified he had graduated from high school. Id.

On March 20, 2015, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff’s application for SSI. (Tr. 49-62). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since February 18, 2014, his application date. (Tr. 54, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: hepatitis C; high blood pressure; disorder of the back; neck, shoulder, and back pain; diabetes; and obesity. (Tr. 54, Finding 2). 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. 55-56, Finding 3).

In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff’s subjective complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 56-61, Finding 4). 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 sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(a) except that he can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl and climb ramps, stairs, ladders, ropes and scaffolds. He is further limited to work that can be performed while using a handheld assistive device for prolonged ambulation.

Id.

The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff’s Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and found Plaintiff was unable to perform his PRW. (Tr. 61, Finding 5). The ALJ then considered whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 61-62, Finding 9). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id. Based upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the following occupations: (1) clerical work with 60, 900 such jobs in the nation and 457 such jobs in Arkansas; (2) assembler with 90, 700 such jobs in the nation and 217 such jobs in Arkansas; and (3) machine tender with 15, 100 such jobs in the nation and 175 such jobs in Arkansas. Id. 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 February 18, 2014 (application date) through March 20, 2015 (decision date). (Tr. 62, Finding 10).

Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the review of the Appeals Council. (Tr. 44-45). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff’s request for review. (Tr. 1-8). On July 6, 2015, Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this matter. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on July 8, 2015. ECF No. 5. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 12-13. 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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