United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES
A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.
Clark ("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) (2006), seeking judicial
review of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social
Security Administration ("SSA") denying her
application for Disability Income Benefits ("DIB")
and a period of disability under Title II of the Act.
to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. Â§ 636(b)(1) and (3) (2005),
the Honorable Susan O. Hickey referred this case to the
Honorable Barry A. Bryant for the purpose of making a report
and recommendation. The Court, having reviewed the entire
transcript and relevant briefing, recommends the ALJ's
determination be AFFIRMED.
application for DIB was filed on November 13, 2012. (Tr. 16).
Plaintiff alleged she was disabled due to lung cancer. (Tr.
196). Plaintiff alleged an onset date of June 1, 2012. (Tr.
16). This application was denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 84-115). Thereafter, Plaintiff
requested an administrative hearing on her application and
this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 150).
had an administrative hearing on May 1, 2014. (Tr. 40-83).
Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Michael
Ray, at this hearing. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational
Expert ("VE") James Wallace testified at this
hearing. Id. At the time of this hearing, Plaintiff
was forty-eight (48) years old, had graduated from high
school and completed three years of college. (Tr. 44).
September 11, 2014, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff's application for DIB. (Tr. 16-26). In
this decision, the ALJ determined the Plaintiff met the
insured status requirements of the Act through December 31,
2017. (Tr. 18, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff
had engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity ("SGA")
from June 1, 2012 through August 18, 2012, but there had been
for a continuous 12 month period where Plaintiff had not
engaged SGA. (Tr. 18, Finding 2, 3).
determined Plaintiff had the severe impairments of chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, and
neuropathy. (Tr. 18, Finding 4). 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. 20, Finding 5).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 21-24). First, the
ALJ indicated he evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and found her claimed limitations were not
entirely credible. Id. The ALJ also found Plaintiff
retained the RFC to perform less than the full range of
sedentary work; can occasionally stoop, crawl, bend, kneel,
or balance; can perform frequent fingering/handling regarding
the dominant upper extremities for peddles and controls;
requires a stand option for ten minutes, after sitting for
more than one hour, in her immediate workplace area with no
disruption of the work process; requires a controlled
environment with no extreme temperatures; and can perform
simple, routine, repetitive tasks with supervision that is
simple, direct, and concrete. Id.
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
("PRW"). (Tr. 24, Finding 7). The ALJ found
Plaintiff unable to perform her PRW. Id. The ALJ,
however, also determined there was other work existing in
significant numbers in the national economy Plaintiff could
perform. (Tr. 25, Finding 11). 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 document preparer with approximately 9, 400 such
jobs in the region and approximately 93, 200 in the nation
and order clerk with approximately 11, 270 such jobs in the
region and approximately 105, 920 in the nation. Id.
Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not
been under a disability as defined by the Act from September
11, 2012, through the date of the decision. (Tr. 26, Finding
Plaintiff requested that the Appeals Council review the
ALJ's unfavorable decision. (Tr. 11-12). See 20
C.F.R. Â§ 404.968. On May 2, 2015, the Appeals Council
declined to review this unfavorable decision. (Tr. 1-6). On
June 30, 2015, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1.
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. Â§ 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.
SeeCox 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 ...