United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Nelson ("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 application 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. 8. 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 January 11, 2013.
(Tr. 11, 194-201). Plaintiff alleged he was disabled due to
brain injury, broken neck, back injury, and mood swings. (Tr.
240). Plaintiff alleged an onset date of May 17, 2011. (Tr.
194, 196). These applications were denied initially and again
upon reconsideration. (Tr. 11). Thereafter, Plaintiff
requested an administrative hearing on his applications and
this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 152-153).
administrative hearing was held on August 12, 2014. (Tr.
29-77). Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel,
Shannon Muse Carroll, at this hearing. Id.
Plaintiff, his brother Raymond Barrett, and Vocational Expert
("VE") Myrtle Johnson, testified at this hearing.
Id. At the time of this hearing, Plaintiff was
thirty-two (32) years old and had a seventh grade education.
(Tr. 33, 35).
December 5, 2014, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiffs applications for DIB and SSI. (Tr. 11-24).
In this decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff met the
insured status requirements of the Act through March 31,
2014. (Tr. 13, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff
had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
("SGA") since January 1, 2013. (Tr. 13, Finding 2).
determined Plaintiff had the severe impairments of borderline
intellectual functioning, drug and alcohol abuse, poor
decision-making abilities, organic mental disorder, bipolar
disorder, and history of head trauma. (Tr. 13, Finding 3).
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. 13-14, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff s subj ective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 14-22). 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 additional physical and
mental limitations. (Tr. 15, Finding 5).
the ALJ found as follows:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except due to mild to moderate
pain the claimant would have no postural restrictions. He
could lift 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently.
Further, the claimant would have no limitations to sitting,
standing or walking. He could perform these functions six
hours in an eight-hour workday and one to two hours without
interruption. Because the claimant mumbles, he could not have
a job requiring communication skills over the phone, such as
a telemarketer. Mentally, the claimant would be limited to
unskilled, rote activity. He could understand, remember and
carry out concrete instructions, as long as they were
unskilled and rote. Contact with supervisors and co-workers
would be superficial, could meet, greet, make change and give
simple directions and instructions. Regarding dealing with
the public the claimant could not work as a cashier, handling
money, counting change or being a service type of employee in
terms of sitting somewhere, answering or responding the
questions. Simply, the claimant's job would be getting to
work and do the work. He could work alongside co-workers with
very little interaction with the public in terms of speaking.
evaluated Plaintiffs Past Relevant Work ("PRW").
(Tr. 22, Finding 6). The ALJ found Plaintiff was unable to
perform his PRW as a packer and machine handler. Id.
The ALJ, however, also determined there was other work
existing in significant numbers in the national economy
Plaintiff could perform. (Tr. 22, Finding 10). The ALJ based
this determination upon the testimony of the VE. Id.
Specifically, the VE testified that given all Plaintiffs
vocational factors, a hypothetical individual would be able
to perform the requirements of a representative occupation
such as a housekeeper with 7, 000 such jobs in the region and
800, 000 such jobs in the nation and small products assembly
with 4, 500 such jobs in the region and 229, 000 such jobs in
the nation. Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ
determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability as
defined by the Act from May 17, 2011, through the date of the
decision. (Tr. 23, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council review the ALJ's
decision. (Tr. 7). See 20 C.F.R. § 404.968. The
Appeals Council declined to review this unfavorable decision.
(Tr. 1-4). On January 15, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present
appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction
of this Court on February 17, 2016. ECF No. 8. Both Parties
have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 14, 16. 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 ...