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Carleton v. Colvin

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

December 6, 2016

DAVID A. CARLETON, PLAINTIFF
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration, DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         David A. Carleton (“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”) under Title II 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 Nos. 6, 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 on May 31, 2013. (ECF No. 13, p. 13). In his application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to arthritis, sciatica, acid reflux, and depression. (ECF No. 12, p. 211). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of December 23, 2008. (ECF No. 12, p. 207). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (ECF No. 12, pp. 117, 124).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his denied applications, and this hearing request was granted. (ECF No. 12, pp. 140, 142). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on May 19, 2014, in Harrison, Arkansas. (ECF No. 12, pp. 74-115). Plaintiff was present and was represented by Frederick Spencer. Id. Plaintiff, Plaintiff's mother Phyllis J. Carleton, and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Larry Seifert testified at this hearing. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff testified he was fifty-one (51) years old on the date last insured, which is defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(e). (ECF No. 12, p. 77). As for his level of education, Plaintiff reported he completed ninth grade and never received a GED. Id.

         After this hearing, on September 2, 2014, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for DIB. (ECF No. 12, pp. 60-69). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2011. (ECF No. 12, p. 65, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since December 23, 2008, his alleged onset date. (ECF No. 12, p. 65, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairment: arthritis. (ECF No. 12, p. 65, Finding 3). Despite being severe, the ALJ determined this impairment 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. 12, p. 65, Finding 4).

         The ALJ then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (ECF No. 12, pp. 65-67, 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:

light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(a) except he can occasionally climb, balance, crawl, kneel, stoop, and crouch.

Id.

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (ECF No. 12, p. 68, Finding 6). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. (ECF No. 12, pp. 107-14). Based upon the testimony and considering Plaintiff's RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was unable to perform any past relevant work. (ECF No. 12, p. 68, 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 a content assembler, which has a DOT code of 522.667-010, with approximately one hundred thirty-one thousand five hundred eighty-five (131, 585) jobs in the national economy, and approximately one thousand five hundred seventy-seven (1, 577) jobs in the state of Arkansas, as a merchandise marker, which has a DOT code of 209.587-034, with approximately two hundred twenty thousand six hundred one (220, 601) jobs in the national economy, and approximately two hundred ninety two (292) jobs in the state of Arkansas, and as a clerical/office helper, which has a DOT code of 239.567-010, with approximately one hundred sixteen thousand twenty-six (116, 026) jobs in the national economy, and approximately seven hundred eighty nine (789) jobs in the state of Arkansas. (ECF No. 12, pp. 68-69). 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 December 23, 2008, through December 31, 2011, the date last insured. (ECF No. 12, p.692), Finding 11).

         Thereafter, on September 23, 2014, Plaintiff requested a review by the Appeals Council. (ECF No. 12, pp. 57-58). The Appeals Council denied this request on July 31, 2015. (ECF No. 13, pp. 5-9). On September 14, 2015, Plaintiff filed the present appeal with this Court. (ECF No. 1). The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on September 15, 2015. (ECF No. 6). 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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