United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Craig (“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 Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”), Disability Insurance
Benefits (“DIB”), 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. 7. 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 December
11, 2008. (Tr. 10). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges
being disabled due to a head injury, back problems, ankle
injury, gout, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and anxiety.
(Tr. 177). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of October 25,
2007. (Tr. 10). These applications were denied initially and
again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 87-90). Plaintiff’s
applications were denied again after an administrative
hearing. (Tr. 7-24). Thereafter, Plaintiff appealed his case
to this Court. (Tr. 725-734). This Court reversed and
remanded Plaintiff’s case for further administrative
review. Id. After remand, the ALJ held a second
administrative hearing on August 27, 2014 in Texarkana,
Arkansas. (Tr. 681-724). At this hearing, Plaintiff was
present and was represented by counsel. Id.
Plaintiff and a Vocational Expert (“VE”) Ms.
Vesti testified at this hearing. Id. During this
hearing, Plaintiff testified he was forty-seven (47) years
old, which is defined as a “younger person” under
20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) and 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c).
(Tr. 688-689). As for his education, Plaintiff testified he
had only completed the eighth grade in school. (Tr. 689).
2, 2015, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a
fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff’s
applications. (Tr. 654-674). The ALJ determined Plaintiff met
the insured status requirements of the Act through September
30, 2012. (Tr. 659, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff
had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since October 25, 2007, his alleged onset
date. (Tr. 659-660, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff
has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc
disease of both the lumbar and cervical spine status/post
remote surgeries, degenerative joint disease in the left
ankle status/post remote surgery, major depressive disorder,
anxiety disorder, and personality disorder. (Tr. 660-662,
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.
662-665, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff’s subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 665-672, 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 capacity to perform a wide range of
After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that
the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform
less than the full range of sedentary work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a). That is, the claimant can
lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally and less than 10
pounds frequently, stand and/or walk for 2 hours in an 8-hour
workday, and sit for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday. However,
he cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds and can only
engage in all other postural functions occasionally. From a
mental standpoint, the claimant can learn, understand,
remember, and carry out simple instructions and tasks. In
such a work setting and environment, he can also use judgment
in making work-related decisions, adapt to and deal with
simple changes in work setting and environment, maintain
attention and concentration for 2-hour intervals, and respond
appropriately to others. However, his contact with coworkers
and the public must be minimal or incidental.
his RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff did not retain the
capacity to perform any of his PRW. (Tr. 672, Finding 6). The
ALJ then determined whether Plaintiff retained the capacity
to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the
national economy. (Tr. 673, Finding 10). The VE testified at
the administrative hearing regarding this issue. (Tr.
665-672, Finding 5). Based upon that testimony, the ALJ
determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the
requirements of representative sedentary occupations such as
(1) system surveillance monitor with 2,091 such jobs in
Arkansas and 25,119 such jobs in the United States; (2)
callout operator with 4,496 such jobs in Arkansas and 76,274
such jobs in the United States; and (3) lamp shade assembler
with 3,344 such jobs in Arkansas and 65,155 such jobs in the
United States. (Tr. 673). Because Plaintiff retained the
capacity to perform other work, the ALJ determined Plaintiff
had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from
October 25, 2007 (alleged onset date) through July 2, 2015
(ALJ’s decision date). (Tr. 673, Finding 11).
sought review with the Appeals Council. (Tr. 641-644).
Thereafter, on January 29, 2016, the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff’s request for review and did not assume
jurisdiction of Plaintiff’s case. Id. On March
21, 2016, Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this case. ECF No.
1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs and have consented
to the jurisdiction of this Court. ECF Nos. 7, 11-12. 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 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. See Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065,
1068 (8th Cir. 2000).
well-established that a claimant for Social Security
disability benefits has the burden of proving his or her
disability by establishing a physical or mental disability
that lasted at least one year and that prevents him or her
from engaging in any substantial gainful activity. See
Cox v. Apfel, 160 F.3d 1203, 1206 (8th Cir. 1998); 42
U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). The Act
defines a “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. §§