United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division
Michael Anthony Owen, Plaintiff, represented by Conrad Thomas
Odom, Odom Law Firm, P.A..
Security Administration, Defendant, represented by Brock C.
Cima, Social Security Administration, Jonathan R. Clark,
Social Security Administration & Stacey Elise McCord, U.S.
THOMAS RAY, Magistrate Judge.
following recommended disposition was prepared for U.S.
District Judge James M. Moody, Jr. A party to this dispute
may file written objections to this recommendation. An
objection must be specific and state the factual and/or legal
basis for the objection. An objection to a factual finding
must identify the finding and the evidence supporting the
objection. Objections must be filed with the clerk of the
court no later than 14 days from the date of this
recommendation. The objecting party must serve the
opposing party with a copy of an objection. Failing to object
within 14 days waives the right to appeal questions of
fact. If no objections are filed, Judge
Moody may adopt the recommended disposition without
independently reviewing all of the record evidence.
for Recommended Disposition
Anthony Owen seeks judicial review of the denial of his
application for supplemental security income
(SSI). Owen last worked as a floor
waxer. His employer, which reimbursed him for
the gas cost of his daily commute from his home in
Huntsville, Arkansas, to where he worked in Farmington,
Arkansas, eventually had to terminate him due to rising
gasoline prices. He based disability on chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), back and shoulder
problems, intestinal problems, and staph
Commissioner's decision. Owen alleged disability
beginning September 2007 when he lost his floor-waxer job,
but the earliest date he could receive SSI was September 26,
2012 when he applied. As a result, the ALJ considered
whether Owen was disabled beginning on that date.
identified emphysema, anxiety, and depression as severe
impairments. The ALJ determined Owen can do some
unskilled light work. After consulting a vocational expert,
the ALJ determined jobs exist that Owen can do and denied the
the Appeals Council denied review,  the ALJ's
decision became the Commissioner's final decision for the
purpose of judicial review. Owen filed this case
to challenge the decision. In reviewing the
decision, the court must determine whether substantial
evidence supports the decision and whether the ALJ made a
legal error. This recommendation explains why the
court should affirm the decision.
allegations. Owen challenges several aspects of the ALJ's
decision: (1) he contends the ALJ failed to fully and fairly
develop the record, (2) he claims the ALJ failed to consider
his impairments in combination, (3) he challenges the
evaluation of his credibility, and (4) he contends he cannot
do light work. For these reasons, he maintains substantial
evidence does not support the decision.
legal principles. For substantial evidence to exist, a
reasonable mind must accept the evidence as adequate to show
Owen can do some light unskilled work. "Light work
involves lifting no more than 20 pounds at a time with
frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 10
pounds." The ALJ placed the following
requirements on light work:
(1) no concentrated exposure to pulmonary irritants; and
(2) simple, routine, repetitive tasks involving incidental
interpersonal contact and simple, direct, concrete
first requirement flowed from emphysema; the second
requirement, from mental impairment. A reasonable mind will
accept the evidence as adequate to support the decision for
the following reasons:
1. Medical evidence establishes no disabling impairment. A
claimant must prove disability with medical evidence; his
subjective allegations are not enough to prove
disability. The medical evidence shows Owen
sought treatment for complaints of abdominal pain,
 but diagnostic testing showed no
cause for pain.
Diagnostic imaging showed mild hyper-expansion of the lungs;
the finding is consistent with emphysema. The
descriptor "mild" suggested no disabling symptoms.
Before applying for SSI, Owen was treated for a staph
infection; the treating doctor drained a boil on a forearm
and prescribed antibiotics. Owen strained his back
lifting a vehicle engine. That's all the
medical evidence showed. Even considered in combination, the
evidence showed nothing preventing light work. According to
Owen, he can lift 50 pounds; that's more than
light work requires.
2. The record contained sufficient evidence to determine
whether Owen was disabled. Owen complains because the ALJ
didn't order a consultative physical exam. However, such
an examination is only required if treatment records do
not provide sufficient medical evidence to determine
whether the claimant is disabled. The ALJ must fairly
and fully develop the record as to the matters at
The record addressed the matters at issue: COPD, back and
shoulder problems, intestinal problems, and staph infection.
COPD: diagnostic imaging showed mild hyper-expansion of the
lungs. Back and shoulder problems: diagnostic imaging showed
mild compression deformities at level T9 and T10 in the
mid-spine; a primary care provider found
tenderness on both sides of the mid-back. Treatment
records reflect no complaints of shoulder pain. Intestinal
problems: diagnostic testing provided no ...