United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Clements (“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 Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) 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. 7. Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
protectively filed his application for DIB benefits on
February 9, 2012. (Tr. 146, 230-238). Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due to arthritis, heart inflammation, and pleurisy.
(Tr. 263). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of January 1,
2009. (Tr. 146). This application was denied initially and
again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 170-176). Thereafter,
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his
application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr.
administrative hearing was held on May 23, 2013. (Tr. 52-84).
At the administrative hearing, Plaintiff was present and was
represented by counsel, Greg Giles. Id. Plaintiff
and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Jerold Hildre
testified at this hearing. Id. On the date of this
hearing, Plaintiff was thirty-seven (37) years old and had an
eighth grade education. (Tr. 56).
April 18, 2014, subsequent to the hearing, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision on Plaintiff’s application. (Tr.
146-164). In this decision, the ALJ determined the Plaintiff
met the insured status of the Act through December 31, 2013.
(Tr. 149, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff had
not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since January 1, 2009. (Tr. 149, Finding
determined Plaintiff had severe impairments of osteoarthritis
of the knees, costochondritis, depressive disorder, not
otherwise specified (NOS), and anxiety disorder, NOS. (Tr.
149, Finding 3). 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.
150, Finding 4)
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff’s subjective
complaints and determined his Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (Tr. 151-162, Finding 5). 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 as follows:
I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity
to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b)) in
that he can lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10
pounds frequently. He can sit for 6 hours in an 8 hour
workday, and stand and/or walk for about 2 hours in an 8-hour
workday. He is limited in pushing and/or pulling (including
the operation of hand and/or foot controls) with his lower
extremities. He can occasionally climb ramps or stairs, but
no ladders, ropes or scaffolds. He has no other postural
limitations. He should avoid hazards, such as dangerous
moving machinery or unprotected heights. He has no
manipulative, visual, or communicative limitations. From a
mental standpoint, he maintains the ability to learn,
understand, remember, and carry out simple work-related
instructions and tasks, and in such a work setting and
environment: can use judgment in making simple work related
decisions; can respond and relate appropriately to others,
such as supervisors and co-workers; can maintain attention
and concentration for at least two hour intervals; and, can
adapt to and deal with simple changes in work settings and
evaluated Plaintiff’s Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 162, Finding 6). 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. 163, Finding 10). 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 laundry folder with approximately 2, 400 such jobs
in Arkansas and 165, 000 such jobs in the nation, bench
assembler with approximately 1, 300 such jobs in Arkansas and
500, 000 such jobs in the nation, and parking lot cashier
with approximately 3, 400 such jobs in Arkansas and 139, 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 since January 1, 2009,
through the date of the decision. (Tr. 164, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council review the
ALJ’s decision. (Tr. 141). See 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.968. The Appeals Council declined to review this
unfavorable decision. (Tr. 1-7). On September 14, 2015,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties
consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on September 16,
2015. ECF No. 7. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF
Nos. 13, 16. 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. §§