United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division
Martin seeks judicial review of the denial of his application
for supplemental security income benefits. (Docket entry
#13) Mr. Martin claims he has been disabled since October 12,
2006, when he was injured in a car accident. (SSA record at
104) Mr. Martin based disability on arthritis in his hands
and problems with his neck and left shoulder. (Id.
Commissioner's ALJ held a hearing on Mr. Martin's
application. Mr. Martin appeared, but was not represented by
counsel. (Id. at 21) After considering Mr.
Martin's application, the ALJ determined that Mr. Martin
had severe impairments - left shoulder pain and cervical
degenerative disc disease - but that he could do light work
with no frequent overhead reaching with the left upper
extremity. (Id. at 11) The ALJ went on to find, at
step four, that Mr. Martin could perform his past relevant
work as a “small business manager.” (Id.
at 14) Alternatively, the ALJ found, at step five, that
because a vocational expert (“VE”) identified
office helper and small products assembler as representative
available work, Mr. Martin was not disabled and denied the
application. (Id. at 15)
the Commissioner's Appeals Council denied a request for
review, the ALJ's decision became a final decision for
judicial review. (Id. at 1-3) Mr. Martin filed this
case to challenge the decision. (#2) In reviewing the
decision, the court must determine whether substantial
evidence supports the decision and whether the ALJ made a
Mr. Martin's Allegations
Martin challenges two aspects of the ALJ's decision: (1)
the determination that he could perform his past relevant
work; and (2) the assessment of his credibility. (#13) Mr.
Martin claims that the VE mischaracterized his past relevant
work as a “Manager, Retail Store” Dictionary of
Occupational Titles (“DOT”) listing 185.167-046.
He says that he worked from 1993 to 2010 as a self-employed
glass installer and thirteen years as a glass installer for
S&S glass both before and after being self-employed.
(Id. 24-25) He contends that working as a glass
installer exceeds his ability for light work without frequent
overhead reaching with his left arm.
according to Mr. Martin, the other jobs identified by the VE,
office helper and small products assembler, require frequent
and constant reaching respectively. He claims that both jobs
exceed his limitations and that the VE did not explain the
conflict. Consequently, he contends that the Commissioner
failed to meet her burden to show work exists that he could
do. For these reasons, he argues, substantial evidence does
not support the decision.
Applicable Legal Principles
Martin's arguments implicate steps four and five of the
At step four, the ALJ determines whether the claimant retains
the “residual functional capacity” (RFC) to
perform his … past relevant work. If the claimant
remains able to perform that past relevant work, he is not
entitled to disability … benefits. If he is not
capable of performing past relevant work, the ALJ proceeds to
step five and considers whether there exist work
opportunities in the national economy that the claimant can
perform given his … medical impairments, age,
education, past work experience, and RFC. If the Commissioner
demonstrates that such work exists, the claimant is not
entitled to disability … benefits.
McCoy v. Astrue, 648 F.3d 605, 611 (8th Cir. 2011)
evidence supports the ALJ's credibility assessment. To
determine a claimant's RFC, the ALJ must first assess the
claimant's credibility because it plays a role in
determining RFC. See SSR 96-7p, Policy Interpretation Ruling
Titles II & XVI: Evaluation of Symptoms in Disability
Claims: Assessing the Credibility of an Individual's
Statements. To assess Mr. Martin's credibility, the ALJ
followed the required two-step process and considered the