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Adkins v. Colvin

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

January 30, 2017

GUY M. ADKINS PLAINTIFF
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Guy M. Adkins (“Plaintiff”) brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) denying his claim for a period of disability, disability insurance benefits (“DIB”), and supplemental security income (“SSI”) benefits under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (“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).[1] Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.

         I. Background:

         Plaintiff protectively filed his disability applications for DIB and SSI on January 19, 2012. (ECF No. 11, p. 15). In his applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to pancreatitis, diabetes, and depression. (ECF No. 11, p. 184). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of August 1, 2008. (ECF No. II, p. 169). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (ECF No. 11, pp. 78-81).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his denied applications, and this hearing request was granted. (ECF No. 11, p. 99, 108). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on November 5, 2013, in Harrison, Arkansas. (ECF No. 11, pp. 35-77). Plaintiff was present and was represented by Greg Thurman. Id. Plaintiff, Plaintiff's mother Carolyn Adkins, and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Jim Spraggins testified at this hearing. Id. At the time of this hearing, Plaintiff was forty-seven (47) years old, which is defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c); 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c). (ECF No. 11, p. 42). As for his level of education, Plaintiff has a high school diploma and completed three technical schools after graduation. Id. at 42-43.

         After this hearing, on February 24, 2014, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications for DIB and SSI. (ECF No. 11, pp. 12-29). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2010. (ECF No. 11, p. 17, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since August 1, 2008, his alleged onset date. (ECF No. 11, p. 17, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, peripheral neuropathy, pancreatitis, and depression (ECF No. 11, pp. 17-18, Finding 3). Despite being severe, the ALJ determined these impairments did not meet or medically equal the requirements of any of the Listings of Impairments in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Part 404 (“Listings”). (ECF No. 11, pp. 18-19, Finding 4).

         The ALJ then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (ECF No. 11, pp. 19-27, 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(b) and 416.967(b) except that he is limited to work that requires only simple tasks and instructions and can have only incidental contact with the public” Id. at 19.

         The ALJ then determined Plaintiff could not return to his Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (ECF No. 11, p, 27, Finding 6). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. (ECF No. 11, pp. 71-77). 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 production line assembler, which has a DOT code of 739.687-030, with approximately five hundred eighty-three thousand (583, 000) jobs in the national economy, and approximately eleven thousand (11, 000) jobs in the state of Arkansas, and even if Plaintiff was limited to sedentary work, as a small products assembler, which has a DOT code of 735.687-018, with approximately two hundred three thousand (203, 000) jobs in the national economy, and approximately four thousand (4, 000) jobs in the state of Arkansas, and as a small products inspector, which has a DOT code of 712.687-018, with approximately sixty-eight thousand (68, 000) jobs in the national economy, and approximately one thousand one hundred (1, 100) jobs in the state of Louisiana. (ECF No. 11, p. 28, Finding 10). I note that the reference to the state of Louisiana in the ALJ's decision is a scrivener's error; the VE testified that those approximately one thousand one hundred (1, 100) jobs for the representative DOT code were in the state of Arkansas. (ECF No. 11, p. 74). 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 August 1, 2008, through February 24, 2014, the date of the ALJ's decision. (ECF No. 11, p. 29, Finding 11).

         Thereafter, on March 6, 2014, Plaintiff requested a review by the Appeals Council. (ECF No. 11, p. 9). The Appeals Council denied this request on June 3, 2015. (ECF No. 11, pp. 5-8). On July 9, 2015, Plaintiff filed the present appeal with this Court. (ECF No. 1). The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on July 30, 2015. (ECF No. 5). 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 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 to support 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).

         It is 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); 42 U.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.” 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(3), ...


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