United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Frank Gonzalez (“Plaintiff”) brings this action
under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of a
final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“SSA”) denying his claim for a
period of disability, disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”), and supplemental security income
(“SSI”) benefits under Titles II and XVI of the
Social Security Act (“The Act”).
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. 7). Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
protectively filed his disability applications for DIB and
SSI on March 9, 2011. (ECF No. 10, p. 635). Plaintiff also
filed a subsequent application for SSI on February 12, 2015,
while his March 9, 2011 applications were pending. (ECF No.
10, p. 635). The ALJ consolidated all of Plaintiff's
outstanding claims into this single action. (ECF No. 10, p.
635). In his applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled
due to knee injuries, back injury/chronic back pain,
depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, hand and arm problems,
shoulder problems, stroke, and a heart condition. (ECF No.
10, pp. 226, 871). Plaintiff alleges an amended onset date of
March 11, 2011. (ECF No. 10, p. 660). These applications,
save the SSI application filed on February 12, 2015, were
denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (ECF No. 10,
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his denied
applications, and this hearing request was granted. (ECF No.
10, pp. 105-06). After this hearing, on February 26, 2013,
the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying
Plaintiff's applications for DIB and SSI. (ECF No. 10,
pp. 24-45). Plaintiff subsequently filed an appeal with this
Court. Gonzalez v. Colvin, No. 6:14-cv-06070, 2014
WL 1709313 (W.D. Ark. 2015). The February 26, 2013, decision
of the ALJ was reversed and remanded for failure to properly
analyze Plaintiff's subjective complaints in accordance
with the requirements of Polaski v. Heckler, 739
F.2d 1320 (8th Cir. 1984). Id.
second administrative hearing was held on December 21, 2015,
in Hot Springs, Arkansas. (ECF No. 10, pp. 656-87). Plaintiff
was present and was represented by Hans Pullen. Id.
Plaintiff and VE Myrtle Johnson testified at this hearing.
Id. At the time of this hearing, Plaintiff was
forty-six (46) years old, which is defined as a
“younger person” under 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1563(c), 416.963(c). (ECF No. 10, p. 660). As for his
level of education, Plaintiff earned a GED. (ECF No. 10, p.
this hearing, on January 22, 2016, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications for
DIB and SSI. (ECF No. 10, pp. 632-48). In this decision, the
ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of
the Act through June 30, 2011. (ECF No. 10, p. 637, Finding
1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial
Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since March 11, 2011,
his amended alleged onset date. (ECF No. 10, p. 637, Finding
2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: residuals of a cerebral vascular accident,
degenerative joint disease of the knees, schizoaffective
disorder, and an anti-social personality
disorder/intermittent explosive disorder. (ECF No. 10, pp.
638-39, 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, pp. 639-41, Finding 4).
then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (ECF No. 10, pp. 641-46, 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:
light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b).
[Plaintiff] is able to lift/carry no more than 20 pounds at a
time with frequent lifting/carrying of up to 10 pounds.
[Plaintiff] can perform activities that require a good deal
of walking or standing, up to six hours during an eight-hour
workday. Mentally, he can perform unskilled work, or work
where interpersonal contact is incidental to the work
performed, the complexity of tasks is learned and performed
by rote, involves few variables, requires little independent
judgment, and the supervision required is simple, direct, and
concrete. [Plaintiff] cannot deal with the general public.
then determined Plaintiff was unable to perform any Past
Relevant Work (“PRW”). (ECF No. 10, pp. 646-47,
Finding 6). The VE testified at the administrative hearing
regarding this issue. (ECF No. 10, pp. 682-86). Based on
Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC, the
ALJ determined there were jobs existing in significant
numbers in the national economy Plaintiff could perform, such
as a bander, which has a DOT code of 920.687-026, with
approximately six hundred ninety-three thousand (693, 000)
jobs in the national economy, and as a price tagger, which
has a DOT code of 209.587-034, with approximately one million
nine hundred thousand (1, 900, 000) jobs in the national
economy. (ECF No. 10, pp. 647-48, Finding 10).
Because jobs exist in significant numbers in the national
economy which Plaintiff can perform, the ALJ also determined
Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the
Act, from March 11, 2011, through January 22, 2016, the date
of the ALJ's decision. (ECF No. 10, p. 648, Finding 11).
September 26, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present appeal with
this Court. (ECF No. 1). The Parties consented to the
jurisdiction of this Court on September 29, 2016. (ECF No.
7). This case is now ready for decision.
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 there is substantial evidence in the record to support 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. §§