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Grantham v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

April 10, 2017

SHAYNE GRANTHAM, PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Shayne Grantham (“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 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. 8. 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 SSI application on March 13, 2013. (Tr. 12, 140-141). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to COPD, generalized weakness, and asthma. (Tr. 159). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of November 1, 2011. (Tr. 12). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 53-67).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his application. (Tr. 93-95). This request was granted, and Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on July 8, 2014 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. (Tr. 28-52). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Shannon Muse Carroll. Id. Plaintiff, Vocational Expert (“VE”) Mach Welch, and a witness for Plaintiff testified at this hearing. Id. During this hearing, Plaintiff testified he was forty-one (41) years old, which is defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c). (Tr. 32). As for his education, Plaintiff testified he had graduated from high school. (Tr. 32).

         On January 26, 2015, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 9-23). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since March 13, 2013, his application date. (Tr. 14, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: organic mental disorder, goiter, COPD, patellofemoral degenerative joint disease, lateral patellar subluxation, and obesity. (Tr. 14-15, Finding 2). 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. 15-17, Finding 3).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 17-21, 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 capacity to perform the following:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(a) except no exposure to respiratory irritants such as dust, fumes, and gasses; is limited to work where interpersonal contact is limited (i.e. work requiring little interaction such as answering simple questions, responding appropriately to supervisors and coworkers, and interaction with the public is infrequent and not considered essential to the job); supervision required is simple, direct and concrete; and judgment within limits with few variables.

Id.

         Considering his RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff did not retain the capacity to perform any of his PRW. (Tr. 21-22, Finding 5). The ALJ then determined whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 22-23, Finding 9). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. (Tr. 22-23). Based upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the requirements of representative occupations such as table worker (sedentary, unskilled) with 454, 010 such jobs in the nation and 5, 980 such jobs in Arkansas. (Tr. 23). Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this other work, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from March 13, 2013 (application date) through January 26, 2015 (ALJ's decision date). (Tr. 23, Finding 10).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. (Tr. 4). On April 5, 2016, the Appeals Council denied his request for review. (Tr. 1-3). On May 2, 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. 8, 12-14. 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) (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 ...


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