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Horner v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

March 24, 2017

NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration[1]DEFENDANT



         John P. Horner (“Plaintiff”) brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) denying his claim for a period of disability and supplemental security income (“SSI”) benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (“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. 7).[2] 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 disability application for SSI on February 11, 2013. (ECF No. 10, p. 15). In his application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to learning disability, personality disorder, and mental retardation. (ECF No. 10, p. 258). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of January 1, 1994. (ECF No. 10, pp. 15, 254). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (ECF No. 10, pp. 64-87).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his denied application, and this hearing request was granted. (ECF No. 10, p. 103). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on February 11, 2015, in Texarkana, Arkansas. (ECF No. 10, pp. 31-67). Plaintiff was present and was represented by Gregory Giles. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Juanita M. Grant testified at this hearing. Id. At the time of this hearing, Plaintiff was twenty-one (21) years old, which is defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c). (ECF No. 10, pp. 35-36). As for his level of education, Plaintiff attended special education classes and completed the twelfth grade. Id.

         After this hearing, on May 11, 2015, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for SSI. (ECF No. 10, pp. 12-25). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since February 11, 2013, his application date. (ECF No. 10, p. 17, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairment: borderline intellectual functioning. (ECF No. 10, p. 17-18, Finding 2). Despite being severe, the ALJ determined this impairment 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. 10, pp. 18-20, Finding 3).

         The ALJ then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (ECF No. 10, pp. 20-24, Finding 4). 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:

a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations. [Plaintiff] is limited to the performance of simple, routine, and repetitive tasks, and simple work-related decisionmaking. He cannot perform at a production rate pace but can perform goal-oriented work. He can have only occasional interaction with supervisors, coworkers, and the public.


         The ALJ then determined Plaintiff had no Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (ECF No. 10, p. 24, Finding 5). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. (ECF No. 10, pp. 51-55). 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 dishwasher, which has a DOT code of 318.687-010, with approximately four hundred ninety-eight thousand one hundred ten (498, 110) jobs in the national economy, as a laundry worker, which has a DOT code of 361.687-010, with approximately four hundred twenty-six thousand six hundred seventy (426, 670) jobs in the national economy, and as a groundskeeper, which has a DOT code of 406.687-010, with approximately eight hundred thirty thousand six hundred forty (830, 640) jobs in the national economy. (ECF No. 10, pp. 24-25, Finding 9). 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 February 11, 2013, through May 11, 2015, the date of the ALJ's decision. (ECF No. 10, p. 25, Finding 10).

         Thereafter, on May 26, 2015, Plaintiff requested a review by the Appeals Council. (ECF No. 10, p. 11). The Appeals Council denied this request on August 12, 2016. (ECF No. 10, pp. 5-10). On September 26, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present appeal with this Court. (ECF No. 1). The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on September 27, 2016. (ECF No. 7). 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 ...

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