United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Layne Daniels (“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. 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.
protectively filed an application for DIB and SSI on March
20, 2012. (Tr. 11, 98-105). Plaintiff alleged he was disabled
due to high blood pressure and quintuple bypass. (Tr. 124).
Plaintiff alleged an onset date of February 28, 2012. (Tr.
11, 98, 100). 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. 72-74).
administrative hearing was held on December 10, 2013. (Tr.
27-45). Plaintiff was present at the hearing, but was not
represented by counsel. Id. Plaintiff and his
witness, Louise Young, testified at this hearing.
Id. On the date of this hearing, Plaintiff was
forty-nine (49) years old and had an eleventh grade
education. (Tr. 34).
August 13, 2014, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff's application for DIB and SSI. (Tr.
11-21). In this decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff met
the insured status requirements of the Act through September
30, 2012. (Tr. 13, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined
Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since February 28, 2012. (Tr. 13, Finding
determined Plaintiff had the severe impairments of coronary
artery disease. (Tr. 13, Finding 3). The ALJ then determined
Plaintiff's 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. 14, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 15-19). First, the
ALJ indicated he evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and found his claimed limitations were not
entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff retained the RFC for the full range of light work.
(Tr. 15, Finding 5).
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”) and found Plaintiff was unable to perform
his PRW. (Tr. 19, Finding 6). The ALJ, however, also
determined there was other work existing in significant
numbers in the national economy Plaintiff could perform. (Tr.
20, Finding 10). The ALJ then used Medical-Vocational
Guidelines Rule 202.17 and 202.18 to reach a conclusion of
“not disabled, ” based on Plaintiff's age,
education, vocational background, and residual functional
capacity. See 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 2,
§ 201.28. (Tr. 21). The ALJ then determined Plaintiff
had not been under a “disability, ” as defined by
the Act, from February 28, 2012, through the date of his
decision. (Tr. 21, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council review the ALJ's
unfavorable decision. (Tr. 4-5). See 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.968. The Appeals Council declined to review this
unfavorable decision. (Tr. 1-3). On August 31, 2015,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties
consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on October 14,
2015. ECF No. 8. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF
Nos. 13, 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) (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. ...