United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
HONORABLE ERIN L. SETSER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Rick Thompson, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), seeking judicial review of a decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(Commissioner) denying his claims for a period of disability
and disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental
security income (SSI) under the provisions of Titles II and
XVI of the Social Security Act (Act). In this judicial
review, the Court must determine whether there is substantial
evidence in the administrative record to support the
Commissioner’s decision. See 42 U.S.C. §
originally brought his claims for DIB and SSI on May 18,
2010, alleging an inability to work since February 27, 2008,
due to hand and arm numbness, nerve damage, severe neck pain,
and overall pain. (Doc. 14, pgs.137-143, 156, 178). After a
hearing on the matter, on August 1, 2011, the ALJ entered his
decision denying Plaintiff’s request for benefits.
(Doc. 14, pgs. 16-30). On November 2, 2013, the undersigned
entered a Report and Recommendation, reversing the
ALJ’s decision. (Doc. 14, p. 386). On December 12,
2013, United States District Judge P. K. Holmes, III, adopted
the Report and Recommendation, instructing the ALJ to more
fully and fairly develop the record regarding
Plaintiff’s alleged carpal tunnel syndrome. (Doc. 14,
pgs. 385-391). On July 10, 2014, the Appeals Council remanded
the matter to the ALJ, pursuant to the Court’s order.
(Doc. 14, pgs. 392-394). In addition, Plaintiff filed a
subsequent claim for Title II benefits on April 10, 2013,
which the ALJ consolidated with the present claims for
adjudication. (Doc. 14, p. 289). An administrative hearing
was held on January 28, 2015, at which Plaintiff appeared
with counsel and testified. (Doc. 14, pgs. 331-361).
written decision dated June 18, 2015, the ALJ found that for
purposes of the DIB claim, Plaintiff met the insured status
requirements of the Act through December 31, 2013. (Doc. 14,
p. 291). The ALJ also found that since the alleged onset date
of disability, February 28, 2008, Plaintiff had the following
severe impairment - carpal tunnel syndrome. (Doc. 14, p.
291). However, after reviewing all of the evidence presented,
the ALJ determined that Plaintiff’s impairments did not
meet or equal the level of severity of any impairment listed
in the Listing of Impairments found in Appendix I, Subpart P,
Regulation No. 4. (Doc. 14, p. 292). The ALJ found as
Prior to January 7, 2014, the date the claimant became
disabled, the claimant had the RFC to perform light work as
defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except he can
perform frequent (rather than constant) rapid and repetitive
flexion and extension of his bilateral wrists.
Beginning on January 7, 2014, the claimant has the RFC to
perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and
416.967(a) except the claimant can perform less than
occasional reaching, handling and fingering.
(Doc. 14, pgs. 292-294). With the help of the vocational
expert (VE), the ALJ determined as follows:
Prior to January 7, 2014, the claimant was capable of
performing past relevant work as a warehouse manager,
…, which is light, skilled work, and as an inventory
management specialist, …, which is light, skilled
work. This work did not require the performance of
work-related activities precluded by the claimant’s
residual functional capacity.
Beginning on January 7, 2014, the claimant’s RFC has
prevented the claimant from being able to perform past
relevant work as his past relevant work exceeds his current
(Doc. 14, p. 296). The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was an
individual closely approaching advanced age on January 7,
2014, the established disability onset date, and that since
January 7, 2014, considering Plaintiff’s age,
education, work experience, and RFC, there were no jobs that
existed in significant numbers in the national economy that
Plaintiff could perform. (Doc. 14, p. 297). The ALJ also
found that with respect to Plaintiff’s DIB application,
Plaintiff was not under a disability within the meaning of
the Act at any time through December 31, 2013, the date last
insured (Doc. 14, p. 297), and that with respect to
Plaintiff’s SSI application, Plaintiff has been
disabled beginning on January 7, 2014. (Doc. 14, p. 298).
case is now before the undersigned pursuant to the consent of
the parties. (Doc. 5). Both parties have filed appeal briefs,
and the case is now ready for decision. (Docs. 12, 13).
Court has reviewed the entire transcript. The complete set of
facts and arguments are presented in the parties’
briefs, and are repeated here only to the extent necessary.
Court’s role is to determine whether the
Commissioner’s findings are supported by substantial
evidence on the record as a whole. Ramirez v.
Barnhart, 292 F.3d 576, 583 (8th Cir. 2002).
Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance but it is
enough that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to
support the Commissioner’s decision. The ALJ’s
decision must be affirmed if the record contains substantial
evidence to support it. Edwards v. Barnhart, 314
F.3d 964, 966 (8th Cir. 2003). 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. Haley v.
Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747 (8th Cir. 2001).
In other words, 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. 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 disability
by establishing a physical or mental disability that has
lasted at least one year and that prevents him from engaging
in any substantial gainful activity. Pearsall v.
Massanari, 274 F.3d 1211, 1217 (8th Cir.
2001); see also 42 U.S.C. §423(d)(1)(A). The
Act defines “physical or mental impairment” as
“an impairment that results from anatomical,
physiological, or psychological abnormalities which are
demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory