United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Bunn (“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 Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”), Supplemental Security
Income (“SSI”) and a period of disability under
Titles II and XVI of the Act.
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.
protectively filed his disability applications on July 26,
2011. (Tr. 363-375). In his applications, Plaintiff alleged
being disabled due to cyclic vomiting syndrome. (Tr. 414).
Plaintiff alleges an onset date of January 9, 2009. (Tr. 363,
370). These applications were denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 262-267, 272-277).
Plaintiff's applications were denied, Plaintiff requested
an administrative hearing on his applications, and this
hearing request was granted. (Tr. 278-279). The ALJ held a
hearing on September 11, 2012, and issued an unfavorable
decision on November 28, 2012, which the Appeals Council
remanded on February 18, 2014. (Tr. 178-208, 241-253,
on May 22, 2014 the ALJ held a new administrative hearing on
Plaintiff's applications. (Tr. 209-236). At this hearing,
Plaintiff was present and was represented by Don Pullen.
Id. During this hearing, Plaintiff testified he was
born on February 17, 1974, and had graduated from high
November 7, 2014, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ
entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's
applications. (Tr. 166-172). In this decision, the ALJ
determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of
the Act through December 31, 2016. (Tr. 168, Finding 1). The
ALJ also determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial
Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since June 1, 2011. (Tr.
168, Finding 2).
two, the ALJ determined Plaintiff did not possess an
impairment or combination of impairments that significantly
limited (or was expected to significantly limit) the ability
to perform basic work-related activities for 12 consecutive
months. (Tr. 168, Finding 4). Based on this, the ALJ
determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as
defined by the Act, from June 1, 2011, through the date of
the decision. (Tr. 171, Finding 5).
Plaintiff requested the review of the Appeals Council. (Tr.
160). On January 21, 2016, the Appeals Council denied this
request for review. (Tr. 1-7). On March 2, 2016, Plaintiff
filed his Complaint in this matter. ECF No. 1. The Parties
consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on March 24,
2016. ECF No. 8. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF
Nos. 12, 14. 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) (2010); 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. ...