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Budd v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division

October 19, 2016

CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration, DEFENDANT



         David R. Budd (“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. 6.[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 on October 8, 2009. (Tr. 11). In his applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to Hepatitis C, COPD, asthma, and a back impairment. (Tr. 180). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of January 1, 2006. (Tr. 11, 137, 144). These applications were denied initially and again on reconsideration. (Tr. 74-77).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his denied applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 28-73). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on February 15, 2011 in Harrison, Arkansas. Id. Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Rick Spencer. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Dale Thomas testified at this hearing. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff testified he was forty-five (45) years old, which is defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c) (2008) (SSI) and 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (2008) (DIB). (Tr. (Tr. 32). As for his education, Plaintiff testified he had only completed the ninth grade in school. (Tr. 32).

         A. ALJ's First Administrative Decision

         After this hearing, on August 30, 2011, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications. (Tr. 8-23). The ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through June 30, 2008. (Tr. 13, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since January 1, 2006, his alleged onset date. (Tr. 13, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of his lumbar spine, osteoarthritis of his cervical spine with associated chronic right shoulder pain, hepatitis C virus (HCV), asthma, generalized anxiety disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. (Tr. 13-15, 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”). (Tr. 15-16, Finding 4).

         The ALJ then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 16-21, 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 the following:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except he can only occasionally climb ramps and stairs, he can never climb ladders, ropes and scaffolds, and he can only occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl. He cannot perform overhead work with his right upper extremity, he can perform frequent but not constant reaching and handing in all other directions with his right upper extremity, and he must avoid even moderate exposure to temperature extremes, wetness, humidity, fumes, odors, dusts, gases and poor ventilation. The claimant is further limited and can perform work where interpersonal contact is incidental to the work performed, the complexity of tasks is learned and performed by rote with few variables and little judgment, and the supervision required is simple, direct and concrete, and which does not involve contact with the general public.


         The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 21-22, Finding 6). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id. Based upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform his PRW as a material handler. Id. Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform his PRW, the ALJ determined she had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from January 1, 2006 through the date of his decision or through August 30, 2011. (Tr. 22, Finding 7).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the Appeal's Council's review of this unfavorable disability determination. (Tr. 7). On December 4, 2012, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-3). Plaintiff appealed his case to this Court. See Budd v. SSA, 3:13-cv-03008 (W.D. Ark. 2014) (ECF No. 13). Upon review, this Court reversed and remanded Plaintiff's case for further administrative review because the ALJ failed to properly consider his medical records. Id. Specifically, the Court admonished the ALJ because he “summarily discounted Dr. Honghiran's [Plaintiff's treating physician] finding of chronic back pain.” (Tr. 21). On June 19, 2014, to address this Court's concerns, the ALJ held a second administrative hearing. (Tr. 667-724).

         B. ALJ's Second ...

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