United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
ERIN L. SETSER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Laurence Eugene Lee, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§405(g), seeking judicial review of a decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(Commissioner) denying his claim for a period of disability
and disability insurance benefits (DIB) under the provisions
of Title II of the Social Security Act (Act). In this
judicial review, the Court must determine whether there is
substantial evidence in the administrative record to support
the Commissioner's decision. See 42 U.S.C.
protectively filed his current application for DIB on July
23, 2012, alleging an inability to work since November 7,
2011, due to osteoarthritis in his lower back and blindness
in his left eye. (Doc. 13, pp. 158-164, 208, 212). An
administrative hearing was held on July 15, 2013, at which
Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified. (Doc. 13, pp.
written decision dated September 20, 2013, the ALJ found that
during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an impairment
or combination of impairments that were severe - early
degenerative disc disease and reduced vision in the left eye.
(Doc. 13, p. 22). However, after reviewing all of the
evidence presented, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff's
impairments did not meet or equal the level of severity of
any impairment listed in the Listing of Impairments found in
Appendix I, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4. (Doc. 13, p. 22).
The ALJ found Plaintiff retained the residual functional
capacity (RFC) to perform a full range of light work as
defined in 20 C.F.R. §404.1567(b). (Doc. 13, p. 22).
With the help of the vocational expert (VE), the ALJ
determined that during the relevant time period, Plaintiff
would be able to perform his past relevant work as a cashier
II, administrative clerk, disc jockey, and broadcast engineer
technician. (Doc. 13, p. 25).
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied that request on November 21,
2014. (Doc. 13, pp. 8-12). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this
action. (Doc. 1). This case is before the undersigned
pursuant to the consent of the parties. (Doc. 6). Both
parties have filed appeal briefs, and the case is now ready
for decision. (Docs. 11, 12).
Court has reviewed the entire transcript. The complete set of
facts and arguments are presented in the parties' briefs,
and are repeated here only to the extent necessary.
Court's role is to determine whether the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence on the record as a whole. Ramirez v.
Barnhart, 292 F.3d 576, 583 (8th Cir. 2002).
Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance but it is
enough that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to
support the Commissioner's decision. The ALJ's
decision must be affirmed if the record contains substantial
evidence to support it. Edwards v. Barnhart, 314
F.3d 964, 966 (8th Cir. 2003). 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. Haley v.
Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747 (8th Cir. 2001).
In other words, 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. 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 disability
by establishing a physical or mental disability that has
lasted at least one year and that prevents him from engaging
in any substantial gainful activity. Pearsall v.
Massanari, 274 F.3d 1211, 1217 (8th Cir.
2001); see also 42 U.S.C. §423(d)(1)(A). The
Act defines “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). A Plaintiff must show that his
disability, not simply his impairment, has lasted for at
least twelve consecutive months.
Commissioner's regulations require him to apply a
five-step sequential evaluation process to each claim for
disability benefits: (1) whether the claimant had engaged in
substantial gainful activity since filing his claim; (2)
whether the claimant had a severe physical and/or mental
impairment or combination of impairments; (3) whether the
impairment(s) met or equaled an impairment in the listings;
(4) whether the impairment(s) prevented the claimant from
doing past relevant work; and (5) whether the claimant was
able to perform other work in the national economy given his
age, education, and experience. See 20 C.F.R.
§404.1520 Only if the final stage is reached does the
fact finder consider the Plaintiff's age, education, and
work experience in light of his RFC. See McCoy v.
Schneider, 683 F.2d 1138, 1141-42 (8th Cir.
1982); 20 C.F.R. §404.1520, abrogated on other
grounds by Higgins v. Apfel, 222 F.3d 504, 505 (8th Cir.
2000); 20 C.F.R. §404.1520.
raises the following issues in this matter: 1) Whether the
ALJ erred in his credibility analysis; and 2) Whether the ALJ