United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Glen McDade (“Plaintiff”) brings this action
pursuant to § 205(g) of Title II of the Social Security
Act (“The Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2006),
seeking judicial review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) denying his applications for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI
of the Act. The 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. 9. Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
applications for DIB and SSI were filed on August 1, 2013.
(Tr. 68, 256-265). Plaintiff alleged he was disabled due to
his neck, back, a brain injury and heart problems. (Tr. 290).
Plaintiff alleged an onset date of September 29, 2007 which
was later amended to October 3, 2009. (Tr. 68). These
applications were denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 194-209). Thereafter, Plaintiff
requested an administrative hearing on his applications and
this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 213).
administrative hearing was held on November 6, 2014. (Tr.
90-118). Plaintiff was present and was represented by
attorney, Hans Pullen, at this hearing. Id.
Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Stefanie
Ford testified at this hearing. Id. At the time of
this hearing, Plaintiff was forty-four (44) years old and had
a high school education. (Tr. 95-96).
26, 2015, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying
Plaintiff's applications for DIB and SSI. (Tr. 68-85). In
this decision, the ALJ determined the Plaintiff met the
insured status requirements of the Act through December 31,
2010. (Tr. 71, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff
had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since September 29, 2007, his alleged
onset date. (Tr. 71, Finding 2).
determined Plaintiff had the severe impairments of history of
coronary artery disease with intermittent angina pectoris,
left ventricular systolic dysfunction, aortic stenosis,
dyslipidemia, diabetes mellitus, obesity, hypertension,
degenerative joint disease, and disc disease of the cervical
and lumbar spine. (Tr. 71, Finding 3). The ALJ then
determined Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or
medically equal the requirements of any of the Listing of
Impairments in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Regulations No. 4
(“Listings”). (Tr. 71, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 72-83). First, the
ALJ indicated he evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and found his claimed limitations were not
entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff retained the RFC for sedentary work with
restrictions including being able to stand and walk for no
more than two hours out of an 8-hour workday; could never
crouch, stoop, or climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds; could
occasionally balance, kneel, or crawl; could not be exposed
to temperature extremes of heat or cold, unprotected heights,
or fumes, odors, or gases; limited to work where the
complexity of one to two step tasks was learned and performed
by rote with few variables requiring little judgment; and
supervision required would be simple, direct, and concrete,
with the work comprised of Specific Vocational Preparation
(SPV)-1 or SVP-2 jobs that could be learned in 30 days.
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 83, Finding 6). The ALJ found
Plaintiff was unable to perform his PRW. Id. The
ALJ, however, also determined there was other work existing
in significant numbers in the national economy Plaintiff
could perform. (Tr. 367-369). The ALJ based this
determination upon the testimony of the VE. Id.
Specifically, the VE testified that given all Plaintiff's
vocational factors, a hypothetical individual would be able
to perform the requirements of representative occupations
such as table worker with 33, 100 such jobs in the nation and
sticker/labeler with 7, 000 such jobs in the nation.
Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff had not been under a disability as defined by the
Act from September 29, 2007, through the date of the
decision. (Tr. 85, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council review the ALJ's
decision. (Tr. 64). See 20 C.F.R. § 404.968.
The Appeals Council declined to review this unfavorable
decision. (Tr. 1-5). On September 30, 2016, Plaintiff filed
the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the
jurisdiction of this Court on November 1, 2016. ECF No. 9.
Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 12, 13. 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 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. 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. §§
423(d)(3), 1382(3)(c). A plaintiff must show that his or her
disability, not simply his or her impairment, has lasted for
at least twelve consecutive months. See 42 U.S.C.
determine whether the adult claimant suffers from a
disability, the Commissioner uses the familiar five-step
sequential evaluation. He determines: (1) whether the
claimant is presently engaged in a “substantial gainful
activity”; (2) whether the claimant has a severe
impairment that significantly limits the claimant's
physical or mental ability to perform basic work activities;
(3) whether the claimant has an impairment that meets or
equals a presumptively disabling impairment listed in the
regulations (if so, the claimant is disabled without regard
to age, education, and work experience); (4) whether the
claimant has the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to
perform his or her past relevant work; and (5) if the
claimant cannot perform the past work, the burden shifts to
the Commissioner to prove that there are other jobs in the
national economy that the claimant can perform. See
Cox, 160 F.3d at 1206; 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)-(f). The fact finder only considers the
plaintiff's age, education, and work experience in light
of his or her RFC if the final stage of this analysis is
reached. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520,