United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
ERIN L. SETSER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Ben Lee Richardson, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), seeking judicial review of a decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“Commissioner”) denying his claims for a period
of disability and disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) benefits under the provisions of Titles
II and XVI of the Social Security Act (“Act”). In
this judicial review, the Court must determine whether there
is substantial evidence in the administrative record to
support the Commissioner's decision. See 42
U.S.C. § 405(g).
protectively filed his applications for DIB and SSI on August
23, 2012. (ECF No. 16, p. 56). In his applications, Plaintiff
alleges disability due to ulcerative colitis, cervical mild
facial parousia, severe depression, anxiety, panic attacks,
and asthma. (ECF No. 16, pp. 14, 296). Plaintiff alleges an
onset date of August 17, 2012. (ECF No. 16, pp. 56, 292).
Those applications were denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (ECF No. 16, pp. 112-95).
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his denied
applications, and this hearing request was granted. (ECF No.
16, p. 215). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held
on January 2, 2014, in Fort Smith, Arkansas (ECF No. 16, p.
77-111). Plaintiff was present and was represented by Susan
Brockett. Id. Plaintiff, Plaintiff's sister
Jennasue Grandpre, and Vocational Expert (“VE”)
Sarah Moore testified at this hearing. Id. At the
time of this hearing, Plaintiff was forty-eight (48) years
old, which is defined as a “younger person” under
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1563(d), 416.963(c). (ECF No. 16,
p. 80). As for his level of education, Plaintiff completed
the tenth grade and later earned a GED. Id.
this hearing, on June 2, 2014, the ALJ entered an unfavorable
decision denying Plaintiff's applications for DIB and
SSI. (ECF No. 16, pp. 53-70). In this decision, the ALJ found
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act
through December 31, 2017. (ECF No. 16, p. 58, Finding 1).
The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial
Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since August 17, 2012,
his alleged onset date. (ECF No. 16, p. 58, Finding 2). The
ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: ulcerative colitis, obstructive sleep apnea,
disorder of the cervical spine status post-surgery, obesity,
major depression, and a personality disorder with Cluster C
traits. (ECF No. 16, p. 58, 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 Part 404
(“Listings”). (ECF No. 16, pp. 59-60, Finding 4).
then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (ECF No. 16, pp. 60-68, 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:
light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b)
except [Plaintiff] can perform work limited to simple,
routine and repetitive tasks, involving only simple,
work-related decisions with few, if any workplace changes and
no more than incidental contact with co-workers, supervisors
and the general public.
then determined Plaintiff was unable to perform his Past
Relevant Work (“PRW”). (ECF No. 16, p. 68,
Finding 6). The VE testified at the administrative hearing
regarding this issue. (ECF No. 16, pp. 108-11). Based on
Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC, the
ALJ determined there were jobs existing in significant
numbers in the national economy Plaintiff could perform, such
as a machine tender and as an inspector. (ECF No. 16, pp.
68-69, Finding 10). Because jobs exist in significant numbers
in the national economy which Plaintiff can perform, the ALJ
also determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as
defined by the Act, from August 17, 2012, through June 2,
2014, the date of the ALJ's decision. (ECF No. 16, p. 69,
on June 16, 2014, Plaintiff requested a review by the Appeals
Council (ECF. No. 16, pp. 51-52). The Appeals Council denied
this request on September 8, 2015. (ECF No. 16, pp. 6-10). On
October 5, 2015, Plaintiff filed the present appeal with this
Court. (ECF No. 1). The Parties consented to the jurisdiction
of this Court on October 23, 2015. (ECF No. 11). This case is
now ready for decision.
Court's role is to determine whether substantial evidence
supports the Commissioner's findings. Vossen v.
Astrue, 612 F.3d 1011, 1015 (8th Cir. 2010). Substantial
evidence is less than a preponderance but it is enough that a
reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the
Commissioner's decision. Teague v. Astrue, 638
F.3d 611, 614 (8th Cir. 2011). We must affirm the ALJ's
decision if the record contains substantial evidence to
support it. Blackburn v. Colvin, 761 F.3d 853, 858
(8th Cir. 2014). 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. Miller v. Colvin, 784 F.3d 472, 477
(8th Cir. 2015). In other words, 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, we must affirm the ALJ's decision.
claimant for Social Security disability benefits has the
burden of proving his disability by establishing a physical
or mental disability that has lasted at least one year and
that prevents him from engaging in any substantial gainful
activity. Pearsall v. Massanari, 274 F.3d 1211, 1217
(8th Cir. 2001); See also 42 U.S.C. §§
423(d)(1)(A). The Act defines “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 ...