United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Bell (“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. 6. Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
filed his disability applications on December 18, 2013. (Tr.
38). In his applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled
due to his inability to read and write or spell, his anxiety,
shoulder and back problems, and stomach problems. (Tr. 282).
Plaintiff alleges an onset date of April 15, 2013. (Tr. 38).
These applications were denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 92-167).
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his denied
applications. (Tr. 183-184). The ALJ granted that request and
held an administrative hearing on January 27, 2015 in Fort
Smith, Arkansas. (Tr. 61-91). At this hearing, Plaintiff was
present and was represented by Iva Nell Gibbons. Id.
Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Deborah
Steele testified at this hearing. Id. At this
hearing, Plaintiff testified he was thirty-nine (39) years
old, which is defined as a “younger person” under
20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (DIB) and 20 C.F.R. §
416.963(c) (SSI). (Tr. 66). As for his level of education,
Plaintiff testified he completed the 9th or
10th grade but never obtained his GED. (Tr.
this hearing, on April 8, 2015, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications for
SSI and DIB. (Tr. 35-49). In this decision, the ALJ found
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act
through September 30, 2017. (Tr. 40, Finding 1). The ALJ
found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful
Activity (“SGA”) since April 15, 2013, his
alleged onset date. (Tr. 40, Finding 2). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: chronic lower
back pain syndrome; internal derangement of his right
shoulder, secondary to traumatic injury,
status/post-arthroscopy; reflex sympathetic dystrophy/right
shoulder (RSD); anxiety; and depression. (Tr. 40, Finding 3).
Despite being severe, the ALJ determined these 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. 41-42,
then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (Tr. 42-47, 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 RFC to
perform the following:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except he is functionally
illiterate, and he is limited to jobs involving simple tasks
and simple instructions, with only incidental contact with
the public. He is further limited to occasional overhead
reaching and frequent but not repetitive manipulation with
his right dominant hand.
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”) and found Plaintiff was unable to perform
his PRW. (Tr. 48-49, Finding 10). The ALJ also considered
whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work
existing in significant numbers in the national economy.
Id. The VE testified at the administrative hearing
regarding this issue. Id. Based upon that testimony,
the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform
the following: (1) sandwich board carrier (light, unskilled)
with 15, 162 such jobs in the nation and 110 such jobs in
Arkansas; and (2) scaling machine operator (light, unskilled)
with 25, 793 such jobs in the nation and 326 such jobs in
Arkansas. (Tr. 48). Because Plaintiff retained the capacity
to perform this work, the ALJ also determined Plaintiff had
not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from
April 15, 2013 through the date of his decision or through
April 8, 2015. (Tr. 49, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested a review by the Appeals Council. (Tr.
16). On May 5, 2016, the Appeals Council denied this request.
(Tr. 1-4). On May 25, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present
appeal with this Court. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to
the jurisdiction of this Court on May 31, 2016. ECF No. 6.
Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 13-14. This
case is now ripe for determination.
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 ...