United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
DANIEL G. WILLIAMS PLAINTIFF
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
G. Williams (“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 Child
Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI 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. 6. Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
protectively filed his disability applications on February 9,
2012. (Tr. 11, 147-156). Plaintiff alleged he was disabled
due to seizures. (Tr. 169). Plaintiff alleged an onset date
of February 5, 1012. (Tr. 125). These applications were
denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 61-79).
Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on
his applications and this hearing request was granted. (Tr.
administrative hearing was held on July 24, 2013. (Tr.
26-56). Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel,
Fred Caddell, at this hearing. Id. Plaintiff, his
Grandmother Cora Combs, and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Floyd Massey testified at this hearing.
Id. At the time of this hearing, Plaintiff was
twenty-one (21) years old and had a high school education.
(Tr. 19, 169).
August 21, 2013, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff's disability applications. (Tr. 11-20).
In this decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not
engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”)
since February 5, 2012. (Tr. 13, Finding 2). The ALJ also
determined Plaintiff had the severe impairments of epilepsy,
obesity, borderline intellectual functioning and a reading
disorder. (Tr. 13, Finding 3). 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. 13, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 21-25). 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 to perform a full range of work at
all exertional levels but must avoid all exposure to
hazardous machinery and unprotected heights; must avoid
concentrated exposure to extreme heat and fumes, odors, dust,
gases, and poorly ventilated areas; can perform simple,
routine, and repetitive tasks that do not require complex
written or verbal communication; no extensive communication;
no more than a seventh grade reading ability; and no more
than a third grade math computation ability. (Tr. 16, Finding
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 19, Finding 6). The ALJ found
Plaintiff had no PRW. Id. The ALJ then considered
whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work
existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr.
25, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative
hearing on this issue. Id. Based upon that
testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity
to perform the following occupations: (1) retail bagger with
120, 710 such jobs in the nation and 921 such jobs in the
state, (2) janitor with 15, 737 such jobs in the nation and
133 such jobs in the state, and (3) cleaner with 133, 887
such jobs in the nation and 1, 146 such jobs in the state
Id. Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to
perform this other work, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not
been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from February
5, 2012 through the date of the decision. (Tr. 20, Finding
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council review the ALJ's
decision. (Tr. 6-7). See 20 C.F.R. § 404.968.
The Appeals Council declined to review this unfavorable
decision. (Tr. 1-3). On October 30, 2015, Plaintiff filed the
present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the
jurisdiction of this Court on November 6, 2015. ECF No. 6.
Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 12, 18. 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. §§
423(d)(3), 1382(3)(c). A plaintiff must show that his or her
disability, not simply his or her impairment, has lasted for
at least twelve consecutive months. See 42 U.S.C.
determine whether the adult claimant suffers from a
disability, the Commissioner uses the familiar five-step
sequential evaluation. He determines: (1) whether the
claimant is presently engaged in a “substantial gainful
activity”; (2) whether the claimant has a severe
impairment that significantly limits the claimant's
physical or mental ability to perform basic work activities;
(3) whether the claimant has an impairment that meets or
equals a presumptively disabling impairment listed in the
regulations (if so, the claimant is disabled without regard
to age, education, and work experience); (4) whether the
claimant has the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to
perform his or her past relevant work; and (5) if the
claimant cannot perform the past work, the burden shifts to
the Commissioner to prove that there are other jobs in the
national economy that the claimant can perform. See
Cox, 160 F.3d at 1206; 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)-(f). The fact finder only considers the
plaintiff's age, education, and work experience in light
of his or her RFC if the final stage of this analysis is
reached. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520,