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Barker v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division

March 2, 2017

DAROLD BARKER PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY BERRYHILL Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Darold Barker (“Plaintiff”) brings this action pursuant to § 205(g) of Title II of the Social Security Act (“The Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2006), seeking judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) denying his application for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title 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's application for SSI was filed on March 30, 2010. (Tr. 11). Plaintiff alleged he was disabled due to hypertension, seizures, kidney failure, and back problems. (Tr. 62). Plaintiff alleged an onset date of December 23, 2010. (Tr. 11). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. Id.

         On April 5, 2012, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for SSI. (Tr. 11-21). On March 14, 2014, pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the District Court remanded the case to the Commissioner to reconsider Plaintiff's RFC and on May 23, 2014 the Appeals Council remanded the case to the ALJ. (Tr. 308).

         Plaintiff's second administrative hearing was held on February 3, 2015. (Tr. 292-304). Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Matthew Ketcham, at this hearing. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Montie Lumpkin testified at this hearing. Id. At the time of this hearing, Plaintiff was fifty-one (51) years old and had a high school education. (Tr. 224-230).

         On August 13, 2015, the ALJ entered a partially unfavorable decision. (Tr. 274-281). In this decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since his alleged onset date. (Tr. 276, Finding 1).

         The ALJ also determined that since December 23, 2010, Plaintiff had the severe impairments of disorder of the spine, hypertension, diabetes mellitus with neuropathy, and plantar calluses. (Tr. 276, Finding 2). The ALJ then determined that since December 23, 2010, 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. 276, Finding 3).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 277-279). First, the ALJ indicated he evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and found his claimed limitations were not entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined that since December 23, 2010 Plaintiff retained the RFC to perform sedentary work, except he was limited to occasionally climbing ramps, stairs, ladders, ropes, scaffolds, balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling; no more than occasional operation of foot controls; and could perform frequent grasping and handling bilaterally. (Tr. 277, Finding 4).

         The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 279, Finding 5). The ALJ found that since December 23, 2010 Plaintiff was unable to perform his PRW. Id. The ALJ also found that prior to May 26, 2013, the date Plaintiff's age category changed, considering Plaintiff' age, education, work experience, and RFC, there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff could have performed (Tr. 280, Finding 9).

         The ALJ then found beginning May 26, 2013, the date Plaintiff's age category changed, considering Plaintiff' age, education, work experience, and RFC, there were no jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff could have performed. (Tr. 281, Finding 10). As a result, the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled prior to May 26, 2013, but became disabled on that date and continued to be disabled through August 13, 2015, the date of the decision. (Tr. 281, Finding 11).

         On October 20, 2015, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court. ECF No. 5. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 12, 13. This case is now ready for decision.

         2. Applicable Law:

         In 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. SeeHaley v. Massanari,258 F.3d 742, 747 (8th Cir. 2001). If, after reviewing the record, it is possible to draw ...


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