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Jones v. Colvin

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

February 8, 2017

SHANE L. JONES PLAINTIFF
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Shane L. Jones (“Plaintiff”) brings this action pursuant to § 205(g) of Title II of the Social Security Act (“The Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2010), seeking judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) denying his application for a period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II 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. 6.[1] Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.

         1. Background:

         Plaintiff protectively filed his DIB application on July 30, 2014. (Tr. 9). In his application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to a back injury, arthritis, depression, thoracic spine degenerative disk disease, joint disease, rotator cuff problems, muscle spasms daily, scoliosis, severe knee pain, and right ankle fracture. (Tr. 211). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of July 1, 2014. (Tr. 9). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 77-108).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his denied application. (Tr. 118-119). The ALJ granted that request and held an administrative hearing on April 23, 2015 in Harrison, Arkansas. (Tr. 23-76). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Frederick Spencer. Id. Plaintiff, Vocational Expert (“VE”) Jim Spragins, and a witness for Plaintiff testified at this hearing. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff testified he was currently forty (40) years old, which is defined as a “younger person” under under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (DIB). (Tr. 29). As for his level of education, Plaintiff testified he had graduated from high school and attended two years of college. Id.

         After this hearing, on August 17, 2015, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for DIB. (Tr. 6-18). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff last met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2014. (Tr. 11, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) from his alleged onset of July 1, 2014 through his date last insured or through December 31, 2014. (Tr. 11, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following “severe” impairments: osteoarthritis or degenerative disc disease of the thoracolumbar spine, obesity, osteoarthritis of the right ankle status post remote open reduction and internal fixation, degenerative joint disease, bursitis, tendinitis of the right shoulder, and major depressive disorder. (Tr. 11, 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 Regulations No. 4 (“Listings”). (Tr. 11-12, Finding 4).

         The ALJ then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 13-16, 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 the following:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that, through the date last insured, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except he could occasionally climb ramps and stairs, he could never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, he could occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; he had to avoid concentrated exposure to hazards including no driving as a part of work; and he was able to perform work where interpersonal contact is incidental to work performed, there is no contact with the general public, the complexity of tasks is learned and performed by rote, with few variables and little use of judgment, and the supervision required is simple, direct and concrete.

Id.

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 16, Finding 6). Considering his RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff could not perform any of his PRW. Id. The ALJ also determined whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing is significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 16-17, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id.

         Based upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the following light occupations: (1) price marker with 319, 000 such jobs nationally; (2) plastic molding machine tender with 168, 000 such jobs nationally; and (3) routing clerk with 51, 000 such jobs nationally. Id. The ALJ also determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the following sedentary occupations: (1) small products assembler with 23, 000 such jobs nationally; and (2) document preparer with 21, 000 such jobs nationally. Id. Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this work, the ALJ also determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from Plaintiff's alleged onset date of July 1, 2014 through the date of the ALJ's decision or through December 31, 2014, Plaintiff's date last insured. (Tr. 17, Finding 11).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested a review by the Appeals Council. (Tr. 5). On September 18, 2015, the Appeals Council denied this request. (Tr. 1-3). On October 30, 2015, Plaintiff filed the present appeal with this Court. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on October 30, 2015. ECF No. 6. This case is now ripe for determination.

         2. Ap ...


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