United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Adams (“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. 7. Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
application for DIB was filed on June 3, 2010 and for SSI was
filed on February 6, 2013. (Tr. 139, 215, 222). Plaintiff
alleged he was disabled due to bulging disk in neck, high
blood pressure, sleep apnea, screws in left shoulder, and
knee problems. (Tr. 239). Plaintiff alleged an onset date of
September 26, 2008. (Tr. 139). These applications were denied
initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 89-112).
Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on
his applications and this hearing request was granted. (Tr.
administrative hearing was held on April 11, 2014. (Tr.
50-88). Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel,
Mary Thomason, at this hearing. Id. Plaintiff, his
friend Michael Anthony Palmer, and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Myrtle Johnson, testified at this hearing.
Id. At the time of this hearing, Plaintiff was
forty-seven (47) years old and had a high school education.
December 5, 2014, the ALJ entered a partially favorable
decision finding Plaintiff disabled from January 18, 2012,
through March 27, 2014, but not disabled beginning March 28,
2014. (Tr. 139-154). In this decision, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act
through December 31, 2013. (Tr. 143, Finding 1). The ALJ also
determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful
Activity (“SGA”) since January 18, 2012. (Tr.
143, Finding 2).
March 28, 2014, the ALJ found Plaintiff's degenerative
disc disease of the cervical spine, osteoarthritis of the
left shoulder, status rotator cuff surgery, and hypertension,
all of which constituted severe impairments within the
meaning of the Act, did not met or medically equal a listing
for presumptive disability. (Tr. 150, Findings 12, 13). The
ALJ also found beginning March 28, 2014, Plaintiff had the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform
sedentary work, except can occasionally stoop, crouch, bend,
kneel, crawl, and balance; can perform occasional overhead
reaching; is able to ambulate on level surfaces unlike those
found in an agricultural setting or at a building site; and
can understand, remember, and carry out detailed instructions
and respond to changes within the workplace. (Tr. 150-151,
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 152, Finding 6). The ALJ found
Plaintiff was unable to perform his PRW since March 28, 2014.
Id. The ALJ, however, also determined beginning
March 28, 2014, there was other work existing in significant
numbers in the national economy Plaintiff could perform. (Tr.
152, Finding 21). The ALJ based this determination upon the
testimony of the VE. Id. Specifically, the VE
testified that given all Plaintiff's vocational factors,
a hypothetical individual would be able to perform the
requirements of a representative occupation such as a
surveillance monitor with 650 such jobs in the region and 74,
000 such jobs in the nation and as a call out operator with
230 such jobs in the region and 51, 000 such jobs in the
nation. Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ
determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability as of
March 28, 2014. (Tr. 153, Finding 22).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council review the ALJ's
decision. (Tr. 4). See 20 C.F.R. § 404.968. The
Appeals Council declined to review this unfavorable decision.
(Tr. 1-3). On February 19, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present
appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction
of this Court on February 25, 2016. ECF No. 7. Both Parties
have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 11, 13. 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); 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), 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. §§
404.1520(a)-(f). The fact finder only considers the
plaintiff's age, education, and work experience in light
of his or her RFC if the final stage of this analysis is
reached. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520,