United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
MICHAEL T. WILLIAMS PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Michael T. Williams, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), seeking judicial review of a decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“Commissioner”) denying his claims for a period
of disability and disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) under the provisions of Title II of the
Social Security Act (“Act”). In this judicial
review, the Court must determine whether there is substantial
evidence in the administrative record to support the
Commissioner's decision. See 42 U.S.C. §
protectively filed his application for DIB on March 11, 2013.
(ECF No. 10, pp. 21, 942). In his application, Plaintiff
alleges disability due to heart attack, knee problems, back
problems, and shoulder problems. (ECF No. 10, p. 945).
Plaintiff alleges an onset date of April 6, 2012. (ECF No.
10, pp. 21, 942). This application was denied initially and
again upon reconsideration. (ECF No. 10, pp. 845-64).
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his denied
application, and this hearing request was granted. (ECF No.
10, pp. 885-91). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was
held on June 26, 2014, in Fort Smith, Arkansas (ECF No. 10,
pp. 822-44). Plaintiff appeared in person and was represented
by R. Scott Johnson. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational
Expert (“VE”) Jim Spragins testified at this
hearing. Id. At the time of this hearing, Plaintiff
was forty-eight (48) years old, which is defined as a
“younger person” under 20 C.F.R. §
404.1563(c). (ECF No. 10, p. 827). As for his level of
education, Plaintiff completed the tenth grade. Id.
this hearing, on October 17, 2014, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for
DIB. (ECF No. 10, pp. 18-29). In this decision, the ALJ found
Plaintiff last met the insured status requirements of the Act
on June 30, 2012. (ECF No. 10, p. 23, Finding 1). The ALJ
found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful
Activity (“SGA”) between April 6, 2012, his
alleged onset date, and June 30, 2012, his date last insured.
(ECF No. 10, p. 23, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff
had the following severe impairments: hypertension, coronary
artery disease (status-post myocardial infarction,
status-post PTCA with stent), and rheumatoid arthritis. (ECF
No. 10, p. 23, 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 Part 404 (“Listings”).
(ECF No. 10, p. 24, Finding 4).
then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (ECF No. 10, pp. 24-28, 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 full range
of light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(b).”
Id. The ALJ then determined Plaintiff was unable to
perform his Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) as a
diesel mechanic, heavy equipment mechanic, and tractor
mechanic. (ECF No. 10, p. 28, Finding 6). The VE testified at
the administrative hearing regarding this issue. (ECF No. 10,
pp. 840-43). Based on Plaintiff's age, education, work
experience, and RFC, the ALJ determined Medical-Vocational
Rule 202.18 directed a finding of “not disabled.”
(ECF No. 1, pp. 28-29, Finding 10). The ALJ therefore
determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as
defined by the Act, from April 6, 2012, through June 30,
2012. (ECF No. 10, p. 29, Finding 11).
on October 24, 2014, Plaintiff requested a review by the
Appeals Council (ECF. No. 10, p. 17). The Appeals Council
denied this request on December 31, 2015. (ECF No. 10, pp.
5-9). On March 2, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present appeal
with this Court. (ECF No. 1). The parties consented to the
jurisdiction of this Court on March 24, 2016. (ECF No. 7).
This case is now ready for decision.
Court's role is to determine whether substantial evidence
supports the Commissioner's findings. Vossen v.
Astrue, 612 F.3d 1011, 1015 (8th Cir. 2010). Substantial
evidence is less than a preponderance but it is enough that a
reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the
Commissioner's decision. Teague v. Astrue, 638
F.3d 611, 614 (8th Cir. 2011). We must affirm the ALJ's
decision if the record contains substantial evidence to
support it. Blackburn v. Colvin, 761 F.3d 853, 858
(8th Cir. 2014). 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. Miller v. Colvin, 784 F.3d 472, 477
(8th Cir. 2015). In other words, 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, we must affirm the ALJ's decision.
claimant for Social Security disability benefits has the
burden of proving his disability by establishing a physical
or mental disability that has lasted at least one year and
that prevents him from engaging in any substantial gainful
activity. Pearsall v. Massanari, 274 F.3d 1211, 1217
(8th Cir. 2001); See also 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(1)(A). The Act defines “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). A Plaintiff must show that his disability, not
simply her impairment, has lasted for at least twelve
Commissioner's regulations require her to apply a
five-step sequential evaluation process to each claim for
disability benefits: (1) whether the claimant has engaged in
substantial gainful activity since filing her claim; (2)
whether the claimant has a severe physical and/or mental
impairment or combination of impairments; (3) whether the
impairment(s) meet or equal an impairment in the listings;
(4) whether the impairment(s) prevent the claimant from doing
past relevant work; and, (5) whether the claimant is able to
perform other work in the national economy given his age,
education, and experience. See 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4). Only if she reaches the final stage does the
fact finder consider Plaintiff's age, education, and work
experience in light of his residual functional capacity.
See McCoy v. Schweiker, 683 F.2d 1138, 1141-42 (8th
Cir. 1982), abrogated on other grounds by Higgins v.
Apfel, 222 F.3d 504, 505 (8th Cir. 2000); 20 C.F.R.
raises five issues on appeal: 1) the ALJ improperly
disregarded the opinions and findings of Dr. Kendrick,
Plaintiff's primary treating physician; 2) the ALJ failed
to consider all of Plaintiff's impairments in
combination; 3) the ALJ improperly discredited
Plaintiff's subjective complaints of pain; 4) the ALJ
erred in his RFC determination; and 5) the ALJ failed to
fully and fairly develop the record. (ECF No. 13). At the
outset, I note the limited relevant period in this case began
on April ...