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Wilchie v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

October 11, 2016

LOUIS WILCHIE, JR. PLAINTIFF
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Louis Wilchie, Jr. (“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 applications for a period of disability, Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”), 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. 7).[1] Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.

         1. Background:

         Plaintiff protectively filed his disability applications for DIB and SSI on June 26, 2012. (ECF No. 13, p. 13). In his applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to high blood pressure, knee pain, and asthma. (ECF No. 13, p. 223). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of January 1, 2008. (ECF No. 13, p. 197). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (ECF No.13, pp. 109, 121).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied applications, and this hearing request was granted. (ECF No. 13, pp. 126, 128). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on March 10, 2014, in Little Rock, Arkansas by video teleconference call with the Hot Springs, Arkansas office. (ECF No. 13, pp. 28-60). Plaintiff was present and was represented by Nancy McDonough. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Dwight Turner testified at this hearing. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff testified he was forty-three (43) years old, which is defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(e) (SSI) and 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(e) (DIB). (ECF No. 13, p. 33). As for his level of education, Plaintiff reported he completed high school and earned a welding certificate from National Park Community College. Id.

         After this hearing, on July 1, 2014, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications for DIB and SSI. (ECF No. 13, pp. 10-27). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through March 31, 2013. (ECF No. 13, p. 15, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since January 1, 2008, his alleged onset date. (ECF No. 13, p. 15, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: knee osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease of the thoracic and lumbar spine, asthma, obstructive sleep apnea, lower extremity neuropathy, and morbid obesity. (ECF No. 13, pp. 15-16, Finding 3). Despite being severe, the ALJ determined these 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”). (ECF No. 13, pp. 16-17, Finding 4).

         The ALJ then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (ECF No. 13, pp. 17-21, Finding 5). First, the ALJ 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:

sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) except he cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds and can only occasionally perform each remaining postural function. The claimant cannot operate foot controls. The claimant cannot have exposure to concentrated fumes, odors, or gases, The claimant cannot be exposed to hazards, unprotected heights, and similar hazards.

Id.

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (ECF No. 13, p. 21, Finding 6). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. (ECF No. 13, pp. 54-58). Based upon the testimony and considering Plaintiff's RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was unable to perform any past relevant work. (ECF No. 13, p. 21, Finding 6). Based on Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC, the ALJ determined there were jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy Plaintiff could perform, such as assembly jobs like that of a fishing reel assembler, which has a DOT code of 732.684-062, and is sedentary work with a SVP of two (2) with approximately one hundred sixty thousand (160, 000) jobs in the national economy, approximately fifteen thousand (15, 000) jobs in the regional economy, and approximately four hundred (400) to five hundred (500) jobs in the state of Arkansas, and inspecting jobs like that of a table worker, which has a DOT code of 739.687-182, and is sedentary work with a SVP of two (2) with approximately two hundred thousand (200, 000) jobs in the national economy, approximately fifteen thousand (15, 000) jobs in the regional economy, and approximately four hundred (400) to five hundred (500) jobs in the state of Arkansas. (ECF No. 13, pp. 21-22). Because jobs exist in significant numbers in the national economy which Plaintiff can perform, the ALJ also determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from January 1, 2008, through the date of his decision. (ECF No. 13, p. 22), Finding 11).

         Thereafter, August 6, 2014, Plaintiff requested a review by the Appeals Council. (ECF No. 13, pp. 8-9). The Appeals Council denied this request on August 27, 2015. (ECF No. 13, pp. 4-7). On September 28, 2015, Plaintiff filed the present appeal with this Court. (ECF No. 1). The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on September 29, 2015. (ECF No. 7). This case is now ready for decision.

         2. Applicable Law:

         In 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 ...


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