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Bivens v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

February 17, 2017

CHARLES D. BIVENS, PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Charles D. Bivens (“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 applications 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. 5.[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 applications on January 14, 2013 (DIB) and on June 1, 2013 (SSI). (Tr. 29). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to a left knee injury. (Tr. 228). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of May 21, 2007. (Tr. 29). These applications were denied initially and again on reconsideration. (Tr. 66-105).

         After Plaintiff's applications were denied, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 47-65). On September 3, 2014, the ALJ held an administrative hearing on Plaintiff's applications. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Sherri McDonough. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Diane Smith testified at this hearing. Id. At this administrative hearing, Plaintiff testified he was forty-one (41) years old, which is defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (2008) (DIB) and 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c)(2008) (SSI). (Tr. 50-51). As for his education, Plaintiff testified he had graduated from high school. (Tr. 51).

         On November 26, 2014, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications. (Tr. 26-41). The ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through September 30, 2011. (Tr. 31, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since May 21, 2007, his alleged onset date. (Tr. 31, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairment: left knee status-post total arthroplasty. (Tr. 31, Finding 3). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff's impairment 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. 31-32, Finding 4).

         The ALJ then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 32-39, 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 the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) except he can occasionally crouch, crawl, and kneel.

Id.

         The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and determined he was unable to perform any of his PRW. (Tr. 39, Finding 6). The ALJ then determined whether there were other jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy he could perform. (Tr. 40, 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 occupations: (1) compact assembler (sedentary, unskilled) with 2, 800 such jobs regionally and 35, 000 such jobs nationally; and (2) bonder (sedentary, unskilled) with 2, 500 such jobs regionally and 20, 000 such jobs nationally. (Tr. 40). Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this work, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from May 21, 2007 (alleged onset date) through November 26, 2014 (ALJ's decision date). (Tr. 41, Finding 11).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the review of the Appeals Council. On January 29, 2016, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-4). On March 7, 2016, Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this matter. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on March 7, 2016. ECF No. 5. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 11-12. This case is now ready for decision.

         2. Ap ...


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