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Devall v. Colvin

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

November 22, 2016

ROBERT N. DEVALL PLAINTIFF
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Robert N. Devall (“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 Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”), Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), and a period of disability.

         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 25, 2012. (Tr. 9, 180-189). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to a neck injury, arthritis in his shoulder and neck, hearing problems, depression, and Hepatitis C. (Tr. 229). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of January 1, 2011. (Tr. 9). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 64-112).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his denied applications. (Tr. 139-140). This hearing request was granted, and Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on January 16, 2014 in Harrison, Arkansas. (Tr. 28-63). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Frederick Spencer. Id. Plaintiff, a witness for Plaintiff, and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Bill Spragens testified at this hearing. Id.

         On April 17, 2014, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications. (Tr. 6-18). The ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2014. (Tr. 11, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since January 1, 2011, his alleged onset date. (Tr. 11, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: status post cervical fusion and Hepatitis C. (Tr. 11-12, Finding 3). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff's 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.13, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 13-16, 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 capacity to perform a wide range of light work:

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 is limited to only occasional overhead reaching bilaterally.

Id.

         The ALJ found Plaintiff had at least a high school education and was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 16, Finding 8). The ALJ also found Plaintiff was forty-five (45) years old, which is defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) and 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c). (Tr. 16, Finding 7).

         The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr.16, Finding 6). The ALJ determined that, considering his RFC, Plaintiff was unable to perform any of his PRW. Id. The ALJ then determined whether Plaintiff retained the capacity other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 16-17, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id.

         Considering Plaintiff's RFC and other limitations, the ALJ determined a hypothetical person with those limitations retained the capacity to perform representative occupations such as (1) cashier II (light, unskilled) with 14, 000 such jobs in Arkansas and 1, 700, 000 such jobs in the United States; and (2) price marker (light, unskilled) with 3, 000 such jobs in Arkansas and 319, 000 such jobs in the United States. (Tr. 17). Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform these jobs, he retained the capacity to perform other work. Accordingly, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from January 1, 2011 (alleged onset date) through April 17, 2014 (ALJ's decision date). (Tr. 17, Finding 11).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. (Tr. 24). Thereafter, on September 16, 2015, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (Tr. 1-3). On October 23, 2015, Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this case. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs and have consented to ...


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