United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Drafton (“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.
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. 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 September
11, 2012. (Tr. 16, 207, 214). In his applications, Plaintiff
alleges being disabled due to back problems, eye problems,
cognition problems, sleep problems, bipolar disorder, high
blood pressure, and depression. (Tr. 260). During the
administrative hearing in this matter, Plaintiff also
detailed his head injuries, one from an assault and several
from car accidents. (Tr. 43-44). Plaintiff alleges an onset
date of November 1, 2008. (Tr. 16). These applications were
denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr.
Plaintiff's applications were denied, Plaintiff requested
an administrative hearing, and this hearing request was
granted. (Tr. 37-76). Thereafter, on June 9, 2014, the ALJ
held an administrative hearing in Hot Springs, Arkansas on
Plaintiff's applications. Id. At this hearing,
Plaintiff was present and was represented by Ian Reed.
Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) James Wallace testified at this hearing.
Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff testified he was
fifty (50) years old, which is defined as a person
“closely approaching advanced age” under 20
C.F.R. § 416.963(d) (2008) (SSI) and 20 C.F.R. §
404.1563(d) (2008) (DIB). (Tr. 40). As for his education,
Plaintiff testified he completed the eleventh grade in school
and truck driving school. (Tr. 41).
9, 2014, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a
fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's
applications. (Tr. 13-31). The ALJ found Plaintiff last met
the insured status requirements of the Act through September
30, 2013. (Tr. 18, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff
had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since November 1, 2008, his alleged onset
date. (Tr. 19, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had
the following severe impairments: arthralgias, bipolar
disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and a
history of alcohol abuse. (Tr. 19-21, Finding 3). The ALJ
also determined Plaintiff's 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. 21-23, Finding 4).
then evaluated whether Plaintiff was disabled, both
considering his substance abuse disorder and assuming he
discontinued his substance abuse. (Tr. 23-30). Assuming he
still continued to consume alcohol at his current rate, the
ALJ determined he was disabled. (Tr. 24-25, Finding 10).
However, assuming he discontinued his alcohol consumption,
the ALJ determined Plaintiff would retain the following
If the claimant stopped the substance use, the claimant would
have the residual functional capacity to lift and carry up to
20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; sit 6 hours
in an 8-hour workday; stand and walk a total of 6 hours in an
8-hour workday; frequently stoop, bend, crouch, kneel, and
balance; restricted from use of ropes, ladders and
scaffolding; can perform work which is simple, routine, and
repetitive with supervision that is simple, direct and
Id. The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past
Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 29-30, Finding 14).
Considering his RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff could not
perform any of his PRW, even if he stopped his substance
also considered whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to
perform other work existing in significant numbers in the
national economy, assuming he stopped his substance abuse.
(Tr. 30, Finding 16). 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 three occupations: (1) housekeeper
at a hotel (light, unskilled) with approximately 1, 860 such
jobs in Arkansas and 221, 600 such jobs in the United States;
(2) cashier 2 (light, unskilled) with approximately 14, 870
such jobs in Arkansas and 1, 677, 000 such jobs in the United
States; and (3) fast food worker (light, unskilled) with 16,
300 such jobs in Arkansas and 2, 147, 000 such jobs in the
United States. (Tr. 30, Finding 16). Because Plaintiff
retained the capacity to perform this work if he stopped his
substance abuse, the ALJ also determined Plaintiff had not
been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from his
alleged onset date through the date of the ALJ's decision
or through June 9, 2014. (Tr. 30, Finding 17).
Plaintiff requested the review of the Appeals Council. On
October 26, 2015, the Appeals Council denied this request for
review. (Tr. 6-8). On March 17, 2016, Plaintiff filed his
Complaint in this matter. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to
the jurisdiction of this Court on March 17, 2016. ECF No. 5.
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) (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 ...