United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
William Miller has appealed the final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying
his claims for supplemental security income. Both parties
have submitted appeal briefs, and the case is ready for
Court's function on review is to determine whether the
Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial
evidence on the record as a whole and free of legal error.
Papesh v. Colvin, 786 F.3d 1126, 1131(8th Cir.
2015); see also 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g). Substantial
evidence is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Phillips v.
Astrue, 671 F.3d 699, 702 (8th Cir. 2012).
Miller alleged that he became limited in his ability to work
due to pain from multiple bullet wounds, hypertension,
migraines, and a learning disability. (SSA record at 54,
88-93, 192) After conducting a hearing, the Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”) concluded that Mr.
Miller had not been under a disability within the meaning of
the Social Security Act at any time from January 23, 2012,
the date the application was filed, through September 25,
2014, the date of his decision. (Id. at 19-20) On
April 2, 2015, the Appeals Council denied a request for a
review of the ALJ's decision, making the ALJ's
decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
(Id. at 3-6) Mr. Miller then filed his complaint
initiating this appeal. (Docket #2)
time of the hearing, Mr. Miller was 36 years old and was
homeless. (SSA record at 441-42) He had a fifth-grade
education and could not read or write. (Id. at
442-44) He had never had steady employment. (Id. at
found that Mr. Miller had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since his alleged onset date and that his borderline
intellectual functioning, learning disabilities, anti-social
personality disorder, morbid obesity, and history of gunshot
wounds were “severe” impairments. (Id.
at 12) He found that Mr. Miller's allegations regarding
the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of his
symptoms were not entirely credible. (Id. at 17-18)
on his findings, the ALJ concluded that, during the relevant
time period, Mr. Miller retained the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) for light work, except he could
not perform jobs that would require reading or arithmetic
skills; he could perform only simple, routine, and repetitive
job tasks that require only incidental interpersonal contact;
and he would have to have supervision that was simple,
direct, and concrete. (Id. at 16) After hearing
testimony from a vocational expert, the ALJ determined that
Mr. Miller could perform work as a poultry line picker and
loader/unloader. (Id. at 18-19) Thus, the ALJ
concluded, Mr. Miller was not disabled. (Id. at 19)
Miller generally challenges the ALJ's decision, but
focuses on the identification of severe impairments and the
credibility assessment. He argues that the medical evidence
supports more limitation than the ALJ found. For these
reasons, he says, substantial evidence does not support the
two of the disability-determination process, the ALJ
determines whether the claimant has a severe impairment. 20
C.F.R. §416.920(a)(4)(ii). Mr. Miller contends that the
identified impairments are inconsistent with his diagnosis of
hypertension; but even if this is true, a diagnosis does not
establish a severe impairment. To be severe, an impairment
must significantly limit the claimant's physical or
mental ability to do basic work activities. See 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(c) & 416.920(c) (explaining that
claimant is not disabled unless he has “impairment or
combination of impairments which significantly limits [the
claimant's] physical or mental ability to do basic work
activities”). A diagnosis does not make that showing.
Miller has not pointed to evidence in the record indicating
his hypertension significantly limits his ability to do basic
work activities. In fact, the record indicates Mr. Miller
performed odd jobs, such as washing cars and house cleaning,
when those jobs are available to him. (Id. at 453)
Further, Mr. Miller's treating records indicate that his
hypertension could be controlled with medication. (SSA record
at 312, 314, 320, 323, 333, 421, 434)
the purpose of step two is to weed out claimants whose
abilities to work are not significantly limited. Bowen v.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 156-57 (1987) (O'Connor, J.,
concurring) (explaining that the Social Security Act
authorizes the Commissioner to weed out applications by
claimants who cannot possibly meet the statutory definition
of disability at step two of the disability-determination
process). If the claimant shows he has a severe impairment,
the process proceeds to the next step in the analysis. Once
the claimant meets his step-two burden, there is no
reversible error so long as the record shows that the ALJ
considered all of the medical evidence and all of the
claimant's impairments. ...