United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Heard IV (“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
Insurance 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. 9. Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
application for DIB and SSI was filed on September 3, 2013.
(Tr. 9, 180-189). Plaintiff alleged he was disabled due to
problems with his right hip and shoulder. (Tr. 222).
Plaintiff alleged an onset date of September 18, 2012. (Tr.
9). These applications were denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 9). Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an
administrative hearing on his applications and this hearing
request was granted. (Tr. 138).
administrative hearing was held on November 19, 2014. (Tr.
33-71). Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel,
Shannon Muse Carroll, 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-four (54) years old and had a
GED. (Tr. 37).
January 15, 2015, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff's application for DIB and SSI. (Tr.
9-28). In this decision, the ALJ determined the Plaintiff
last met the insured status requirements of the Act on March
31, 2016. (Tr. 11, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined
Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since September 18, 2012, his alleged
onset date. (Tr. 11, Finding 2).
determined Plaintiff had the severe impairments of
osteoarthritis of the right hip, history of right shoulder
impingement, migraine headache, post-traumatic stress
disorder (PTSD), and depression. (Tr. 11, 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. 12, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 13-26). 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 a modified range of
sedentary work with the ability to occasionally lift and
carry or push and pull ten pounds; sit for at least six hours
in an eight-hour work day; stand or walk two hours in an
eight-hour work day; should avoid overhead reaching and
lifting with the right dominant upper extremity; can perform
frequent fingering or handling with the left (non-dominant)
upper extremity; would require the use of a cane in
ambulating to and from the work, and retains the ability to
understand, remember, carry out detailed instructions, and
respond to changes in the workplace. (Tr. 13-14, Finding 5).
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 26, Finding 6). The ALJ found
Plaintiff was unable to perform his PRW. Id. The
ALJ, however, also determined there was other work existing
in significant numbers in the national economy Plaintiff
could perform. (Tr. 27, 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 a representative occupations
such as lock component assembler with 1, 800 such jobs in the
region and 21, 000 such jobs in the nation and semi-conductor
checker with 2, 500 such jobs in the region and 60, 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 September 18, 2012, through the date
of the decision. (Tr. 28, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council review the ALJ's
decision. (Tr. 5). See 20 C.F.R. § 404.968. The
Appeals Council declined to review this unfavorable decision.
(Tr. 1-4). On April 25, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present
appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction
of this Court on June 2, 2016. ECF No. 9. Both Parties have
filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 15, 16. 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. §§
404.1520(a)-(f). The fact finder only considers the
plaintiff's age, education, and work experience in light
of his or her RFC if the final stage of this analysis is
reached. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520,
brings the present appeal claiming the ALJ erred: (A) by
failing to find Plaintiff met a Listing, (B) in his
credibility analysis, and (C) in the RFC determination ECF
No. 15, Pgs. 3-19. In response, the ...