United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division
WESLEY O. JOHNSON PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,  Commissioner Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
ERIN L. SETSER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Wesley O. Johnson, 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 claim for a period of disability
and disability insurance benefits (DIB) under the provisions
of Title II 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.
protectively filed his current application for DIB on April
26, 2010, alleging an inability to work since May 15, 2008,
due to cirrhosis of the liver, a calcaneous fracture,
anxiety, and depression. (Tr. 14, 190). An administrative
hearing was held on January 25, 2011, at which Plaintiff
appeared with counsel and testified. (Tr. 27-82).
written decision dated September 4, 2014, the ALJ found
Plaintiff was not disabled prior to February 1, 2010, but
that Plaintiff became disabled on February 1, 2010, and
remained disabled through the date of the decision. (Tr. 14).
Specifically, the ALJ found that since May 15, 2008,
Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: a history of
a right calcaneal fracture status post open reduction and
internal fixation; hepatic cirrhosis; major depressive
disorder; anxiety disorder, not otherwise specified (NOS);
and polysubstance abuse/dependence (alcohol and marijuana).
(Tr. 16). However, after reviewing all of the evidence
presented, the ALJ determined that since May 15, 2008,
Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or equal the level
of severity of any impairment listed in the Listing of
Impairments found in Appendix I, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4.
(Tr. 16). The ALJ found that since May 15, 2008, Plaintiff
retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to:
perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a)
except the claimant could not climb, kneel, crouch, crawl or
push/pull with his right lower extremity. He could not
operate foot controls with his right lower extremity. He
could occasionally balance and stoop. The claimant had to
avoid exposure to extreme cold and also avoid concentrated
exposure to humidity and hazards including no driving as part
of work. He was able to perform simple, routine, repetitive
tasks with incidental interpersonal contact and simple,
direct and concrete supervision.
(Tr. 20). With the help of a vocational expert, the ALJ found
Plaintiff was not disabled prior to February 1, 2010, as he
was able to perform work as a an inspector/checker of dowels,
a semi-conductor bonder, and a lamp shade assembler. (Tr.
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council which denied that request on November 9,
2015. (Tr. 5). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action.
(Doc. 1). This case is before the undersigned pursuant to the
consent of the parties. (Doc. 5). Both parties have filed
appeal briefs, and the case is now ready for decision. (Docs.
Court has reviewed the entire transcript. The complete set of
facts and arguments are presented in the parties' briefs,
and are repeated here only to the extent necessary.
Court's role is to determine whether the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence on the record as a whole. Ramirez v.
Barnhart, 292 F.3d 576, 583 (8th Cir. 2002). 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. The ALJ's decision must be
affirmed if the record contains substantial evidence to
support it. Edwards v. Barnhart, 314 F.3d 964, 966
(8th Cir. 2003). 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. Haley v. Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747
(8th Cir. 2001). 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, the decision of the ALJ must be
affirmed. Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065, 1068 (8th
well-established that a 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), 1382c
(a)(3)(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 U.S.C. §
423(d)(3). A Plaintiff must show that his disability, not
simply his impairment, has lasted for at least twelve
Commissioner's regulations require her to apply a
five-step sequential evaluation process to each claim for
disability benefits: (1) whether the claimant has engaged in
substantial gainful activity since filing his claim; (2)
whether the claimant has a severe physical and/or mental
impairment or combination of impairments; (3) whether the
impairment(s) meet or equal an impairment in the listings;
(4) whether the impairment(s) prevent the claimant from doing
past relevant work; and (5) whether the claimant is able to
perform other work in the national economy given his age,
education, and experience. See 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520. Only if the final stage is reached does the fact
finder consider the Plaintiff's age, education, and work
experience in light of his ...