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Breuer v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division

June 9, 2017

ROGER A. BREUER PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Roger A. Breuer (“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 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. 5.[1] 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 April 25, 2013 (DIB) and on May 6, 2013 (SSI). (Tr. 10). Plaintiff alleges he is disabled due to epilepsy, depression, pain disorder, mild scoliosis, “disorder of written expression, ” and borderline personality disorder. (Tr. 265). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of November 11, 2011. (Tr. 10). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 108-111).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 197-222). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on April 15, 2014 in Harrison, Arkansas. (Tr. 28-53). Plaintiff was present and was represented by Frederick Spencer at this hearing. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Sarah Moore testified at this hearing. Id. On the date of this hearing, Plaintiff was thirty-two (32) years old, which is defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (2008) (DIB) and 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c)(2008) (SSI). (Tr. 35). As for his education, Plaintiff also testified at this hearing that he had obtained his GED. (Tr. 35).

         On April 2, 2015, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's disability applications. (Tr. 7-22). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2012. (Tr. 12, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since November 11, 2011, his alleged onset date. (Tr. 12, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: epilepsy, mild scoliosis, pain disorder, borderline personality disorder, and major depressive disorder (recurrent, moderate). (Tr. 12, Finding 3). The ALJ also determined, however, that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or a combination of impairments that met or medically equaled one of the listed impairments in the Listings of Impairments in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Regulations No. 4 (“Listings”). (Tr. 13-14, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ also evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 14-20, Finding 5). First, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and allegedly disabling symptoms. Id. Second, the ALJ reviewed all the evidence in the record and hearing testimony and determined Plaintiff's RFC. Id. Specifically, 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 medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) and 416.967(c) except that the claimant must avoid all exposure to hazards including moving machinery and unprotected heights. He is able to perform work where interpersonal contact is incidental to the work performed; complexity of tasks is learned and performed by rote, few variables and little judgment. Supervision required is simple, direct and concrete.

Id.

         The ALJ then considered Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 20, Finding 6). Plaintiff and the VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id. Based upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was unable to perform his PRW. Id. The ALJ also considered whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 21, Finding 10).

         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 three representative occupations: (1) dishwasher (medium, unskilled) with 1, 200 such jobs in Arkansas and 188, 800 such jobs in the nation; (2) machine tender (light, unskilled) with 2, 700 such jobs in Arkansas and 267, 000 such jobs in the nation; and (3) inspector (light, unskilled) with 800 such jobs in Arkansas and 63, 000 such jobs in the nation. (Tr. 21). Based upon this testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from November 11, 2011 (alleged onset date) through April 2, 2015 (ALJ's decision date). (Tr. 22, Finding 11).

         Plaintiff requested that the Appeals Council's review the ALJ's unfavorable decision. On April 18, 2016, the Appeals Council denied this request. On June 8, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on June 8, 2016. ECF No. 5. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 10-11. This case is now ready for decision.

         2. Ap ...


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