United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Lester Dean, 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 claim for a period of disability
and disability insurance benefits under the provision 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 current application for DIB on
November 24, 2012, alleging an inability to work since March
20, 2011, due to a back injury; problems with his shoulder,
knee, leg, and feet; arthritis; shortness of breath; and
heart issues. (Doc. 10, p. 44). For DIB purposes, Plaintiff
maintained insured status through September 30, 2016. (Doc.
10, p. 203). An administrative hearing was held on May 15,
2014, at which Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified.
(Doc. 10, pp. 24-42).
written decision dated July 11, 2014, the ALJ found that
during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had a severe
impairment of osteoarthritis. (Doc. 1, p. 15). However, after
reviewing all of the evidence presented, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or equal the
level of severity of any impairment listed in the Listing of
Impairments found in Appendix I, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4.
(Doc. 10, p.16). The ALJ found that Plaintiff retained the
residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform light work as
defined in 20 CFR § 404.1567(b), except that Plaintiff
cannot perform overhead reaching with the dominant right
upper extremity. (Doc. 10. pp. 16-19). With the help of a
vocational expert (VE), the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was
capable of performing the requirements of representative
occupations such as a cashier II and a storage facility
clerk. (Doc. 10, pp. 19-20).
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied that request on November 9,
2015. (Doc. 10, pp. 4-6). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this
action. (Doc. 1). This case is before the undersigned
pursuant to the consent of the parties. (Doc. 6). Both
parties have filed appeal briefs, and the case is now ready
for decision. (Docs. 11, 13).
Court has reviewed the entire transcript. The complete set of
facts and arguments are presented in the parties' briefs,
and are repeated here only to the extent necessary.
Court's role is to determine whether the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence on the record as a whole. Ramirez v.
Barnhart, 292 F.3d 576, 583 (8th Cir. 2002). 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. The ALJ's decision must be
affirmed if the record contains substantial evidence to
support it. Edwards v. Barnhart, 314 F.3d 964, 966
(8th Cir. 2003). 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. Haley v. Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747
(8th Cir. 2001). 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, the decision of the ALJ must be
affirmed. Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065, 1068 (8th
well-established that a 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), 1382c
(a)(3)(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 his 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 his 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 the final stage is reached does the
fact finder consider the 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.
makes the following arguments on appeal: 1) the ALJ failed to
fully and fairly develop the record; 2) the ALJ failed to
find that Plaintiff's restrictive lung disease, angina,
peripheral vascular disease, diabetes, and neuropathy were
severe impairments; 3) the implementation of Social Security
Ruling 16-3 requires remand; and 4) the ALJ failed to
properly evaluate the opinions of the consulting examining
physicians of record. (Doc. 11).
Full and Fair ...