United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Northern Division
BARRY L. HOYT PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
Barry L. Hoyt, protectively applied for disability income
benefits (“DIB”) on January 30, 1991, and he
applied for supplemental security income benefits
(“SSI”) on March 25, 2014. (Tr. at 21) In both
applications, he alleged an onset date of January 1, 1991.
Id. Mr. Hoyt's claims were denied initially and
upon reconsideration. Id. After conducting a
hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
denied Mr. Hoyt's application. (Tr. at 33) 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. Hoyt has requested judicial review.
The Commissioner's Decision:
found that Mr. Hoyt's date last insured was June 30,
2006. (Tr. at 21) He was first insured for DIB on July 1,
2004. Id. Therefore, to be successful on his DIB
claim, Mr. Hoyt must establish disability between July 1,
2004 and June 30, 2006. Id. The ALJ found
insufficient medical evidence to establish disability during
that time; thus, the ALJ proceeded with his analysis based
upon the SSI claim. (Tr. at 21, 54) Mr. Hoyt's attorney
consented to consideration of the SSI claim only. (Tr. at
found that Mr. Hoyt had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the alleged onset date of January 1, 1991.
(Tr. at 23) At Step Two of the five-step process, the ALJ
found that Mr. Hoyt had the following severe impairments:
organic mental disorder, personality disorder, borderline
intellectual functioning, anxiety disorder, and major
depressive disorder. Id.
finding that Mr. Hoyt's impairments did not meet or equal
a listed impairment (Tr. at 25), the ALJ determined that Mr.
Hoyt had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”)
to work at all exertional levels, with limitations. (Tr. at
27) He could understand, remember, and carry out simple
work-related tasks; make judgments in simple work-related
situations; respond appropriately to coworkers and/or
supervisors with occasional incidental contact that is not
necessary to perform the work; respond appropriately to minor
changes in usual work routine; and have no direct or indirect
contact with the general public. Id.
found that Mr. Hoyt had no past relevant work. (Tr. at 31) At
Step Five, the ALJ relied on the testimony of a Vocational
Expert (“VE”) to find that, based on Mr.
Hoyt's age, education, work experience and RFC, jobs
existed in significant numbers in the national economy that
he could perform. (Tr. at 31-32) Based on that Step Five
determination, the ALJ held that Mr. Hoyt was not disabled.
(Tr. at 33)
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)(citation omitted). In reviewing the ALJ decision,
the Court must consider not only evidence that supports the
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)).
Arguments on Appeal
Hoyt argues that the RFC finding is not supported by
substantial evidence, and that the ALJ did not give proper
weight to the opinion of consulting examiner Jerry
claimant's RFC represents the most he can do despite the
combined effects of all of his credible limitations
considering all credible evidence. McCoy v. Astrue,
648 F.3d 605, 614 (8th Cir. 2011). In determining the
claimant's RFC, “the ALJ has a duty to establish,
by competent medical evidence, the physical and mental
activity that the claimant can perform in a work setting,
after giving appropriate consideration to all of [his]
impairments.” Ostronski v. Chater, 94 F.3d
413, 418 (8th Cir. 1996). Here, Mr. Hoyt contends that the
RFC did not account for his mental functional limitations.
record contains scant evidence of significant mental
impairments. At various appointments with prison doctors over
the span of a ten-year confinement, Mr. Hoyt rarely
complained of mental impairments. At one point, he threatened
to take all of his “B/P meds, ” (Tr. at 357), but
then he said he was feeling better and had no thoughts of
self-harm. (Tr. at 353-360) He was diagnosed with Pedophilia,
Borderline Intellectual Functioning, and Borderline
Personality Disorder, but exhibited a good mood, cooperative
attitude, and rational and goal-directed thought process on
February 24, 2014. (Tr. at 377). The prison records do not
support a finding of disabling mental impairments.
Hoyt sought treatment fewer than 10 times at Dayspring
Behavioral Health (“Dayspring”) in 2014 and 2015.
(Tr. at 380-418, 475-490). He had generally normal mental
status examinations, and reported that he liked to draw, help
others, and fish. (Tr. at 479-481). Mr. Hoyt was not always
complaint with medications. A failure to follow a recommended
course of treatment weighs against a claimant's
credibility. Guilliams v. Barnhart, 393 F.3d 798,
802 (8th Cir. 2005). In fact, Mr. Hoyt was discharged from
services at Dayspring for failure to ...