United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division
WILLIAM J. NULL PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Commissioner Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
William J. Null, 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 claims for a period of disability
and disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental
security income (SSI) benefits under the provisions of Titles
II and XVI 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 applications for DIB and SSI on May
24, 2010, alleging an inability to work since January 1,
2006,  due to COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease), an aneurysm on the brain, shortness of breath,
depression, and high blood pressure. (Doc. 9, pp. 115, 122,
184). For DIB purposes, Plaintiff maintained insured status
through December 31, 2014. (Doc. 9, 144). An administrative
hearing was held on July 8, 2011, at which Plaintiff appeared
with counsel and testified. (Doc. 9, pp. 30-61).
written decision dated October 4, 2011, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to
perform sedentary work with limitations. (Doc. 9, pp. 16-25).
The Appeals Council declined review of the ALJ's decision
on November 16, 2011. (Doc. 9, pp. 7-10).
appealed the ALJ's October 4, 2011, decision to this
Court. In a decision dated March 29, 2013, this Court
remanded the case back to the Commissioner to further develop
the record, and to re-evaluate Plaintiff's impairments.
(Doc. 9, pp. 620-626). The Appeals Council vacated the
ALJ's decision, re-opened and consolidated a subsequent
favorable ALJ decision dated May 3, 2013, and remanded
Plaintiff's case back to the ALJ on July 10, 2014. (Doc.
9, pp. 595-598, 611-617). A supplemental administrative
hearing was held on May 19, 2015. (Doc. 9, pp. 562-594).
Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified.
written decision dated February 23, 2016, the ALJ found that
during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an impairment
or combination of impairments that were severe. (Doc.9, p.
542). Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the following
malformation (AVM), COPD, and depression. 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. 9, p. 542). The ALJ found Plaintiff retained the RFC
perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and
416.967(a) except the claimant can only occasionally climb,
balance, crawl, kneel, stoop, and/or crouch. In addition, the
claimant must avoid hazards including unprotected he8ights
(sic) and moving machinery. The claimant must also avoid
concentrated exposure to dusts, odors, gasses, and other
similar pulmonary irritants. Finally, the claimant can
perform simple, routine, and repetitive tasks in a setting
where interpersonal contact is incidental to the work
performed; and he is able to respond to supervision that is
simple, direct, and concrete.
(Doc. 9, p. 544). With the help of a vocational expert, the
ALJ determined Plaintiff could perform work as a compact
assembler, a nut sorter, and an ampoule sealer. (Doc. 9, p.
Plaintiff filed this action. (Doc. 1). This case is before
the undersigned pursuant to the consent of the parties. (Doc.
5). Both parties have filed appeal briefs, and the case is
now ready for decision. (Docs. 12, 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