United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Lee Tallent ("Plaintiff) brings this action pursuant to
§ 205(g) of Title II of the Social Security Act
("The Act"), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2006),
seeking judicial review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
("SSA") denying his applications for 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. 5. Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
applications for DIB and SSI were filed on March 25, 2013.
(Tr. 20). Plaintiff alleged he was disabled due to chemical
imbalance in brain, left ankle replacement, and psychological
conditions. (Tr. 217). Plaintiff alleged an onset date of
March 8, 2013. (Tr. 20, 177, 185). These applications were
denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 20).
Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on
his applications and this hearing request was granted. (Tr.
administrative hearing was held on May 14, 2014. (Tr. 36-63).
Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Greg
Thurman, at this hearing. Id. Plaintiff and
Vocational Expert ("VE") Debra Arlene Steele
testified at this hearing. Id. At the time of this
hearing, Plaintiff was fifty-four (54) years old, which is
defined as a "person closely approaching advanced
age" under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(d), and had a high
school education. (Tr. 41-42).
31, 2014, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying
Plaintiffs applications for DIB and SSI. (Tr. 20-30). In this
decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status
requirements of the Act through the date of the decision.
(Tr. 22, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not
engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity ("SGA")
since March 8, 2013, his alleged onset date. (Tr. 22, Finding
also determined Plaintiff had the severe impairments of
depression, compound fracture of the left tibia status post
open reduction internal fixation, and osteoarthritis of the
left ankle. (Tr. 22, Finding 4). The ALJ then determined
Plaintiffs impairments did not meet or medically equal the
requirements of any of the Listing of Impairments in Appendix
1 to Subpart P of Regulations No. 4 ("Listings").
(Tr. 22, Finding 5).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff s subjective complaints
and determined his RFC. (Tr. 24-29). First, the ALJ indicated
he evaluated Plaintiffs subjective complaints and found his
claimed limitations were not entirely credible. Id.
Second, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the RFC to
perform light work, with no more than simple tasks and simple
instructions. (Tr. 24, Finding 6).
evaluated Plaintiffs Past Relevant Work ("PRW").
(Tr. 29, Finding 7). The ALJ found Plaintiff was capable of
performing his PRW as a poultry eviscerator and sorter.
Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff had not been under a disability as defined by the
Act from March 8, 2013, through the date of the decision.
(Tr. 29, Finding 8).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council review the ALJ's
decision. (Tr. 6). See 20 C.F.R. § 404.968. The
Appeals Council declined to review this unfavorable decision.
(Tr. 1-5). On October 7, 2015, Plaintiff filed the present
appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction
of this Court on October 8, 2015. ECF No. 5. Both Parties
have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 9, 11. This case is now
ready for decision.
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 support the
Commissioner's decision. See Johnson v. Apfel,
240 F.3d 1145, 1147 (8th Cir. 2001). 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. See Haley v.
Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747 (8th Cir. 2001). 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. See 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 or her
disability by establishing a physical or mental disability
that lasted at least one year and that prevents him or her
from engaging in any substantial gainful activity. See
Cox v. Apfel, 160 F.3d 1203, 1206 (8th Cir. 1998);
42U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). The Act
defines a "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." 42U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(3),
1382(3)(c). A plaintiff must show that his or her disability,
not simply his or her impairment, has lasted for at least
twelve consecutive months. See 42 U.S.C. §
determine whether the adult claimant suffers from a
disability, the Commissioner uses the familiar five-step
sequential evaluation. He determines: (1) whether the
claimant is presently engaged in a "substantial gainful
activity"; (2) whether the claimant has a severe
impairment that significantly limits the claimant's
physical or mental ability to perform basic work activities;
(3) whether the claimant has an impairment that meets or
equals a presumptively disabling impairment listed in the
regulations (if so, the claimant is disabled without regard
to age, education, and work experience); (4) whether the
claimant has the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to
perform his or her past relevant work; and (5) if the
claimant cannot perform the past work, the burden shifts to
the Commissioner to prove that there are other jobs in the
national economy that the claimant can perform. See
Cox, 160 F.3d at 1206; 20 C.F.R. ...