United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Johnny Lane Estep, 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) 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 current applications for DIB and SSI
on February 13, 2014, alleging an inability to work since
August 24, 2011, due to depression, anxiety, diabetes, and
problems with his back, neck, and legs. (Doc. 10, pp. 78, 90,
102, 115). An administrative video hearing was held on August
19, 2015, at which Plaintiff appeared with counsel and
testified. (Doc. 10, pp. 50-76).
written decision dated September 19, 2015, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff had severe impairments of cervical degenerative
disc disease (post ACF surgery for HNP at ¶ 5-C6),
diabetes mellitus, obesity, and depression. (Doc. 10, pp.
34-35). 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. 10, pp.
35-37). The ALJ found that Plaintiff retained the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to perform light work as defined in
20 CFR §§ 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b), except that
Plaintiff could frequently lift and/or carry ten pounds;
occasionally lift and/or carry twenty pounds; push and/or
pull within the limits of lifting and carrying; sit for a
total of six hours in an eight hour work day; stand and/or
walk for a total of six hours in an eight hour work day; and
occasionally reach overhead. (Doc. 10, pp. 37-40). With the
help of a vocational expert (VE), the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff could perform his past relevant work as a video
sales attendant, which was light, unskilled work. (Doc. 10,
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied that request on May 20, 2016.
(Doc. 10, pp. 6-12). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this
action. (Doc. 1). This case is before the undersigned
pursuant to the consent of the parties. (Doc. 6). Both
parties have filed appeal briefs, and the case is now ready
for decision. (Docs. 13, 16).
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
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. Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065, 1068 (8th
well-established that a claimant for Social Security
disability benefits has the burden of proving his disability
by establishing a physical or mental disability that has
lasted at least one year and that prevents him from engaging
in any substantial gainful activity. Pearsall v.
Massanari, 274 F.3d 1211, 1217 (8th Cir. 2001); see
also 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c
(a)(3)(A). The Act defines “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. §
423(d)(3). A Plaintiff must show that his disability, not
simply his impairment, has lasted for at least twelve
Commissioner's regulations require her to apply a
five-step sequential evaluation process to each claim for
disability benefits: (1) whether the claimant has engaged in
substantial gainful activity since filing his claim; (2)
whether the claimant has a severe physical and/or mental
impairment or combination of impairments; (3) whether the
impairment(s) meet or equal an impairment in the listings;
(4) whether the impairment(s) prevent the claimant from doing
past relevant work; and, (5) whether the claimant is able to
perform other work in the national economy given his age,
education, and experience. See 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 413.920. Only if the final stage is
reached does the fact finder consider the Plaintiff's
age, education, and work experience in light of his residual
functional capacity. See McCoy v. Schweiker, 683
F.2d 1138, 1141-42 (8th Cir. 1982), abrogated on other
grounds by Higgins v. Apfel, 222 F.3d 504, 505 (8th Cir.
2000); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920.
argues the following issues on appeal: 1) the ALJ erred in
his credibility analysis; 2) the ALJ erred in disregarding
the opinion of primary treating physician, Dr. Kendrick; and
3) the ALJ erred in his determination that Plaintiff retained
the RFC to perform a limited range of light
work. (Doc. 13).