United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
RUSSELL A. FOREHAND PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Forehand (“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 Disability
Income Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security
Income (“SSI”) under Titles II and 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. Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
applications for DIB and SSI were filed on May 14, 2013. (Tr.
10, 172-179). Plaintiff alleged he was disabled due to right
eye blindness, carpal tunnel syndrome, bronchitis,
hypertension, peripheral neuropathy, club feet, asthma,
tendinitis, nerve pain, and diabetes. (Tr. 10, 191).
Plaintiff alleged an onset date of June 15, 2005. (Tr. 10).
These applications were denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 10). Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an
administrative hearing on his applications and this hearing
request was granted. (Tr. 129).
administrative hearing was held on July 17, 2014. (Tr.
24-68). Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel,
Susan Brockett, at this hearing. Id. Plaintiff and
Vocational Expert (“VE”) Dianne Smith testified
at this hearing. Id. At the time of this hearing,
Plaintiff was fifty-five (55) years old and had a tenth grade
education. (Tr. 28, 32).
November 24, 2014, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff's application for DIB and SSI. (Tr.
10-19). In this decision, the ALJ determined the Plaintiff
last met the insured status of the Act on March 31, 2010.
(Tr. 12, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff had
not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since March 19, 2008, the amended onset
date. (Tr. 12, Finding 2).
determined Plaintiff had the severe impairments of right eye
blindness, carpal tunnel syndrome, bronchitis, hypertension,
peripheral neuropathy, and diabetes. (Tr. 13, Finding 3). The
ALJ then determined 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. 13, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 13-17). First, the
ALJ indicated he 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 medium work with no
more than frequent reaching and handling, and the work having
to be in a climate-controlled environment with no temperature
extremes, heavy chemicals, heavy dust, heavy fumes, or
humidity. (Tr. 13, Finding 5).
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 17, Finding 6). The ALJ found
Plaintiff was not capable of performing his PRW. Id.
The ALJ, however, also determined there was other work
existing in significant numbers in the national economy
Plaintiff could perform. (Tr. 18, Finding 10). The ALJ based
this determination upon the testimony of the VE. Id.
Specifically, the VE testified that given all Plaintiff's
vocational factors, a hypothetical individual would be able
to perform the requirements of representative occupations
such as linen room attendant with 4, 000 such jobs in the
region and 40, 000 such jobs in the nation and bagger with
10, 000 such jobs in the region and 165, 000 such jobs in the
nation. Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ
determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability as
defined by the Act from March 9, 2008, through the date of
the decision. (Tr. 19, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council review the ALJ's
decision. (Tr. 5-6). See 20 C.F.R. § 404.968.
The Appeals Council declined to review this unfavorable
decision. (Tr. 1-3). On March 23, 2016, 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
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. 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. §§
423(d)(3), 1382(3)(c). A plaintiff must show that his or her
disability, not simply his or her impairment, has lasted for
at least twelve consecutive months. See 42 U.S.C.
determine whether the adult claimant suffers from a
disability, the Commissioner uses the familiar five-step
sequential evaluation. He determines: (1) whether the
claimant is presently engaged in a “substantial gainful
activity”; (2) whether the claimant has a severe
impairment that significantly limits the claimant's
physical or mental ability to perform basic work activities;
(3) whether the claimant has an impairment that meets or
equals a presumptively disabling impairment listed in the
regulations (if so, the claimant is disabled without regard
to age, education, and work experience); (4) whether the
claimant has the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to
perform his or her past relevant work; and (5) if the
claimant cannot perform the past work, the burden shifts to
the Commissioner to prove that there are other jobs in the
national economy that the claimant can perform. See
Cox, 160 F.3d at 1206; 20 C.F.R. ...