United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES
A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.
Lafaye Turner ("Plaintiff") brings this action
pursuant to Â§ 205(g) of Title II of the Social Security Act
("The Act"), 42 U.S.C. Â§ 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") and a period of disability under Title XVI
of the Act.
to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. Â§ 636(b)(1) and (3) (2009),
the Honorable P. K. Holmes, III referred this case to this
Court for the purpose of making a report and recommendation.
In accordance with that referral, and after reviewing the
arguments in this case, this Court recommends Plaintiff's
case be REVERSED AND REMANDED.
protectively filed his disability application on April 19,
2012. (Tr. 41, 227-233). In this application, Plaintiff
alleges being disabled due to arthritis, sclerosis, heart
disease, and degenerative disc disease. (Tr. 266). Plaintiff
alleged an onset date of September 23, 2008. (Tr. 227). This
application was denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 41).
requested an administrative hearing on January 2, 2013. (Tr.
178). This hearing request was granted and Plaintiff's
administrative hearing was held on June 19, 2013. (Tr.
111-152). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was
represented by Jim Carafagno. Id. Plaintiff and
Vocational Expert ("VE") Debra Arlene Steele
testified at this hearing. Id. At this hearing,
Plaintiff testified he was fifty-one (51) years old, which is
defined as a "person closely approaching advanced
age" under 20 C.F.R. Â§ 404.1563(d) (2008) (DIB) and 20
C.F.R. Â§ 416.963(d) (2008) (SSI). (Tr. 120). As for his
education, Plaintiff testified he went through the seventh
grade. (Tr. 122).
December 4, 2013, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 41-52). In this
decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity ("SGA") since April
19, 2012. (Tr. 43, Finding 1). The ALJ also found Plaintiff
had the following severe impairments: a musculoskeletal
disorder-back disorder, cervical and lumbar degenerative disc
disease (DDD), and a mental disorder-borderline intellectual
functioning. (Tr. 43, Finding 2). Despite being severe, the
ALJ determined those 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. 44, Finding 3).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 46-51, 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 RFC to perform medium work, can lift
or carry up to 25 pounds frequently, 50 pounds occasionally;
can sit for up to 6 hours in an 8-hour workday; and stand or
walk for up to 6 hours in an 8-hour workday; can occasionally
reach overhead bilaterally; is restricted to simple, routine,
and repetitive tasks that involved only simple work-related
decisions with few, if any, workplace changes and no more
than incidental contact with coworkers, supervisors, and the
general public. (Tr. 46, Finding 4).
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
("PRW"). (Tr. 51, Finding 5). The ALJ found
Plaintiff was unable to perform his PRW. Id. The
ALJ, however, also determined there was other work existing
in significant numbers in the national economy Plaintiff
could perform. (Tr. 51, Finding 9). The ALJ based his
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 a store laborer with 2, 548 such jobs in Arkansas and
96, 653 such jobs in the nation, and industrial cleaner with
9, 429 such jobs in Arkansas and 1, 160, 237 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 since April 19, 2012. (Tr. 52, Finding
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's unfavorable decision. (Tr. 36). On April 20, 2015,
the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr.
1-4). On June 15, 2015, Plaintiff filed the present appeal.
ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 9,
10. 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. Â§ 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 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. Â§Â§ 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. Â§Â§ 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. Â§
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. SeeCox, 160 F.3d at 1206; 20 C.F.R. ...