United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
ROBERT A. SIMMONS, PLAINTIFF
CAROLYN COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration, DEFENDANT
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Simmons (“Plaintiff”) brings this action pursuant
to § 205(g) of Title II of the Social Security Act
(“The Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2006),
seeking judicial review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) denying his application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”) 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. Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
application for DIB and SSI were filed on February 20, 2014.
(Tr. 11, 162-173). Plaintiff alleged he was disabled from
seizures due to spot on the brain. (Tr. 194). Plaintiff
alleged an onset date of January 6, 2014. (Tr. 11, 194).
These applications were denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 11). Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an
administrative hearing on his applications and this hearing
request was granted. (Tr. 116).
administrative hearing was held on January 12, 2015. (Tr.
26-40). Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel,
Greg Giles, at this hearing. Id. Plaintiff and
Vocational Expert (“VE”) Harris Rowzie, testified
at this hearing. Id. At the time of this hearing,
Plaintiff was fifty-five (55) years old and had a tenth grade
education. (Tr. 37-38).
April 13, 2015, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff’s applications for DIB and SSI. (Tr.
11-20). In this decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff met
the insured status requirements of the Act through December
31, 2018. (Tr. 13, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined
Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since January 6, 2014, his alleged onset
date. (Tr. 13, Finding 2).
determined Plaintiff had the severe impairments of seizure
disorder, mood disorder, and alcohol abuse. (Tr. 13, Finding
3). The ALJ then determined Plaintiff’s impairments did
not meet or medically equal the requirements of any of the
Listing of Impairments in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of
Regulations No. 4 (“Listings”). (Tr. 13, Finding
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff’s subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 15-18). First, the
ALJ indicated he evaluated Plaintiff’s subjective
complaints and found his claimed limitations were not
entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff retained the RFC to perform medium work; can
frequently balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl, and climb
ramps and stairs, but not ladders, ropes or scaffolds; cannot
work at heights or around dangerous moving machinery; can
understand, remember and carry out no more than simple 1, 2,
3, step instructions with no strict production quotas; and
can have occasional contact with coworkers. (Tr. 15, Finding
evaluated Plaintiff’s Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 18, Finding 6). The ALJ found
Plaintiff was unable to perform his PRW as a welder.
Id. The ALJ, however, also determined there was
other work existing in significant numbers in the national
economy Plaintiff could perform. (Tr. 19, Finding 10). The
ALJ based this determination upon the testimony of the VE.
Id. Specifically, the VE testified that given all
Plaintiff's vocational factors, a hypothetical individual
would be able to perform the requirements of a representative
occupation such as silver wrapper with 3, 600 such jobs in
Arkansas and 506, 000 such jobs in the nation and cleaner
polisher with 2, 400 such jobs in Arkansas and 394, 000 such
jobs in the nation. Id. Based upon this finding, the
ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability as
defined by the Act from January 6, 2014, through the date of
the decision. (Tr. 20, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council review the
ALJ’s decision. (Tr. 7). See 20 C.F.R. §
404.968. The Appeals Council declined to review this
unfavorable decision. (Tr. 1-5). On June 17, 2015, Plaintiff
filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to
the jurisdiction of this Court on June 18, 2015. ECF No. 5.
Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 10, 11. This
case is now ready for decision.
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 possible to draw two inconsistent
positions from the evidence and one of those positions
represents the findings of the ALJ, the decision of the ALJ
must be affirmed. See Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065,
1068 (8th Cir. 2000).
well established that a claimant for Social Security
disability benefits has the burden of proving his or her
disability by establishing a physical or mental disability
that lasted at least one year and that prevents him or her
from engaging in any substantial gainful activity. See
Cox v. Apfel, 160 F.3d 1203, 1206 (8th Cir. 1998); 42
U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). The Act
defines a “physical or mental impairment” as
“an impairment that results from anatomical,
physiological, or psychological abnormalities which are
demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory
diagnostic techniques.” 42 U.S.C. §§
423(d)(3), 1382(3)(c). A plaintiff must show that his or her
disability, not simply his or her impairment, has lasted for
at least twelve consecutive months. See 42 U.S.C.
determine whether the adult claimant suffers from a
disability, the Commissioner uses the familiar five-step
sequential evaluation. He determines: (1) whether the
claimant is presently engaged in a “substantial gainful
activity”; (2) whether the claimant has a severe
impairment that significantly limits the claimant’s
physical or mental ability to perform basic work activities;
(3) whether the claimant has an impairment that meets or
equals a presumptively disabling impairment listed in the
regulations (if so, the claimant is disabled without regard
to age, education, and work experience); (4) whether the
claimant has the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to
perform his or her past relevant work; and (5) if the
claimant cannot perform the past work, the burden shifts to
the Commissioner to prove that there are other jobs in the
national economy that the claimant can perform. See
Cox, 160 F.3d at 1206; 20 C.F.R. ...