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Fisher v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division

May 16, 2017

TREVOR L. FISHER PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Trevor L. Fisher (“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.

         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. 6. 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 applications on September 19, 2013. (Tr. 8, 113-142, 231-244). In his applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to bipolar borderline personality and headaches. (Tr. 275). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of March 16, 2011. (Tr. 8). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 113-142).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his applications. (Tr. 189-190). This request was granted, and Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on October 1, 2014 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. (Tr. 28-70). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Fred Caddell. Id. Plaintiff, a witness for Plaintiff, and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Jim Spraggins testified at this hearing. Id. During this hearing, Plaintiff testified he was thirty-seven (37) 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. 35). As for his education, Plaintiff testified he completed two years of college. Id.

         On April 2, 2015, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications. (Tr. 5-19). The ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through September 30, 2014. (Tr. 10, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since March 16, 2011, his alleged onset date. (Tr. 10, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: mood disorder, not otherwise specified; dysthymic disorder; bipolar disorder; cannabis abuse, episodic; anxiety disorder; and borderline personality disorder. (Tr. 10-11, 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. 11-13, Finding 3).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 13-17, 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 the following:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but that he has nonexertional limitations. Specifically, the claimant is able to perform work where interpersonal contact is incidental to the work performed and where the complexity of tasks is learned and performed by rote with few variables and little judgment. The supervision required is simple, direct and concrete.

Id.

         The ALJ then considered Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 17-19, Finding 6). Considering his RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform his PRW as a construction worker II. Id. Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform his PRW, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from his alleged onset date of March 16, 2011 through the date of his decision or through April 2, 2015. (Tr. 19, Finding 7).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. (Tr. 26-27). On May 10, 2016, the Appeals Council denied his request for review. (Tr. 1-3). On June 10, 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. 6, 13, 15. 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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