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Chase v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division

June 23, 2017

GREGORY LEE CHASE PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Gregory Lee Chase (“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 application for a period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II 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. 8. Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.

         1. Background:

         On May 13, 2013, Plaintiff protectively filed his disability application. (Tr. 144, 284-285). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to “severe headaches, confusion, can't concentrate, ” and manic depression. (Tr. 319). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of May 25, 2012. (Tr. 144). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 192-222).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on March 12, 2014. (Tr. 232-233). This request was granted, and Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on October 22, 2014 in El Dorado, Arkansas. (Tr. 160-191). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Michael Ray. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Mack Welch testified at this hearing. Id. During this hearing, Plaintiff testified he was fifty-one (51) years old, which is defined as a “person closely approaching advanced age” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(d) (2008) (DIB). (Tr. 165). As for his education, Plaintiff testified he had completed the twelfth grade in high school. Id.

         On March 30, 2015, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 144-153). The ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2017. (Tr. 146, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since May 25, 2012, his alleged onset date. (Tr. 146, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: bilateral knee pain, history of blood clots in his lungs, and depression. (Tr. 146, 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. 146-148, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 148-152, 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 light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b).

Id. “Light work” is defined as follows:

(b) Light work. Light work involves lifting no more than 20 pounds at a time with frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 10 pounds. Even though the weight lifted may be very little, a job is in this category when it requires a good deal of walking or standing, or when it involves sitting most of the time with some pushing and pulling of arm or leg controls. To be considered capable of performing a full or wide range of light work, you must have the ability to do substantially all of these activities. If someone can do light work, we determine that he or she can also do sedentary work, unless there are additional limiting factors such as loss of fine dexterity or inability to sit for long periods of time.

20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b).

         The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and found Plaintiff did not retain the capacity to perform any of his PRW. (Tr. 152, Finding 6). The ALJ then considered whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 152-153, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. (Tr. 152-153). Based upon this testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the following occupations:(1) poultry line worker (unskilled, light) (3, 500 such jobs in Arkansas and 200, 000 such jobs in the nation); and (2) small product assembly (unskilled, light) (4, 700 such jobs in Arkansas and 200, 000 such jobs in the nation). Id. Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this other work, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from May 25, 2012 through the date of the ALJ's decision or through March 30, 2015. (Tr. 153, Finding 11).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. On May 27, 2016, the Appeals Council denied his request for review. (Tr. 1-3). On July 25, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in his case. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs and have consented to the ...


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