United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
Scottie Henry, applied for disability benefits on September
24, 2012, alleging disability beginning on March 20, 2006.
(Tr. at 32) After conducting a hearing, the Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”) denied his application. (Tr. at
50) The Appeals Council denied his request for review. (Tr.
at 1) The ALJ's decision now stands as the final decision
of the Commissioner, and Mr. Henry has requested judicial
reasons stated below, the Court reverses the ALJ's decision
and remands for further review.
The Commissioner's Decision:
found that Mr. Henry had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the application date of September 24, 2012.
(Tr. at 34) The ALJ found, at Step Two of the five-step
sequential analysis, that Mr. Henry had the following severe
impairments: lumbar spine degenerative disc disease s/p
remote discectomy, diabetes, diabetic peripheral neuropathy,
affective disorder, and anxiety disorder. Id.
finding that Mr. Henry's impairments did not meet or
equal a listed impairment (Tr. at 37), the ALJ determined
that Mr. Henry had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform light work at the unskilled
level with additional limitations. (Tr. at 39) He could lift
and carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently;
stand and/or walk six hours in an eight-hour workday; sit six
hours in an eight-hour workday; and push and/or pull 20
pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. Id. He
could understand, remember, and carry out simple job
instructions, make judgments in simple work-related
situations, respond appropriately to co-workers/supervisors,
and respond appropriately to minor changes in the usual work
found that Mr. Henry had no past relevant work. (Tr. at 49)
Finally, the ALJ relied on the testimony of a Vocational
Expert ("VE") to find that, based on Mr.
Henry's age, education, work experience and RFC, Mr.
Henry was capable of performing work in the national economy.
Id. Based on that determination, the ALJ held that
Mr. Henry was not disabled. (Tr. at 50)
Standard of Review
Court's role is to determine whether the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence. Prosch v. Apfel, 201 F.3d 1010, 1012 (8th
Cir. 2000). “Substantial evidence" in this context
means “enough that a reasonable mind would find it
adequate to support the ALJ's decision." Slusser
v. Astrue, 557 F.3d 923, 925 (8th Cir. 2009). The Court
must consider not only evidence that supports the
Commissioner's decision, but also evidence that supports
a contrary outcome. The Court cannot reverse the decision,
however, “merely because substantial evidence exists
for the opposite decision." Long v. Chater, 108
F.3d 185, 187 (8th Cir. 1997) (quoting Johnson v.
Chater, 87 F.3d 1015, 1017 (8th Cir. 1996)).
Henry's Arguments on Appeal
Henry argues that substantial evidence does not support the
ALJ's decision to deny benefits because the ALJ did not
incorporate relevant VE testimony in his decision, did not
tailor the RFC to Mr. Henry's actual mental limitations,
did not assign proper weight to treating and examining
physicians, and did not conduct a proper credibility
Henry suffered from mental illness for years, evidenced by
multiple hospitalizations, low Global Assistive Functioning
(“GAF”) scores, consistent professional
counseling, and multiple medication adjustments. In 1992, Mr.
Henry was hospitalized for suicidal ideation. (Tr. at
344-346) In 2007, he was admitted to St. Vincent's acute
psychiatric unit for suicidal thoughts. (Tr. at 1050-1090)
His GAF upon admission was 25, and he stayed in the hospital
for three days. Id. In September 2008, Mr. Henry
returned to the emergency room with suicidal ideation. (Tr.
at 1032) In October and November 2009, Mr. Henry was again
seen in the emergency room at St. Vincent Infirmary for
suicidal ideation. (Tr. at 768-771, 899-902, 996-1001,
Henry began counseling sessions at Professional Counseling
Associates in early 2009, which he continued intermittently
through late 2011. (Tr. at 467-508, 1359-1404) On January 29,
2009, he tested in the high range for distractibility and
inattention. (Tr. at 1359) On November 5, 2009, he reported
trouble sleeping, hearing voices, seeing figures, and having
impulse control problems. (Tr. at 1364) His provider at
Professional Counseling Associates ...