United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Lambert (“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 application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II 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.
application for DIB was filed on June 28, 2012. (Tr.
275-278). Plaintiff alleged he was disabled due to
complications with his left knee as a result of a car
accident. (Tr. 341). Plaintiff alleged an onset date of
October 10, 2010. (Tr. 275). This application was denied
initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 150-167).
Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on
his application and this hearing request was granted. (Tr.
initial administrative hearing was held on June 11, 2014.
(Tr. 66-95). On July 2, 2014, the ALJ issued an unfavorable
decision. (Tr. 168-187). The Appeals Council reviewed the
ALJ's July 2014 decision and remanded the case to the
ALJ, ordering to obtain evidence from a medical expert to
clarify whether Plaintiff's impairments met a listing
prior to July 3, 2014. (Tr. 211).
second administrative hearing was held on February 23, 2016.
(Tr. 96-149). Plaintiff was present and was represented by
attorney, Terry Diggs, at this hearing. Id.
Plaintiff, Medical Expert (“ME”) Dr. John Kwock,
and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Myrtle Johnson
testified at this hearing. Id. At the time of this
hearing, Plaintiff was fifty-seven (57) years old and had a
high school education. (Tr. 114).
17, 2016, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying
Plaintiff's application for DIB. (Tr. 13-33). In this
decision, the ALJ determined the Plaintiff met the insured
status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2016.
(Tr. 16, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff had
not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) from October 10, 2010 through July 2,
2014. (Tr. 16, Finding 2).
determined that prior to July 3, 2014, Plaintiff had the
severe impairments of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
(COPD), diabetes mellitus (historically poorly controlled
with established treatment compliance issues), hypertension
(historically inconsistently controlled with established
compliance issues), mild-to-moderate arthritic changes of the
bilateral knees, with a history of left knee lateral tibial
plateau shear-type fracture with slight displacement
(status-post open reduction and internal fixation- December
2010), and obesity. (Tr. 16, 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. 17, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 19-32). 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 a limited range of light work.
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 32, Finding 6). The ALJ found that
prior to July 3, 2014, Plaintiff was capable of performing
his PRW. Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ
determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability as
defined by the Act from October 10, 2010, through July 2,
2014. (Tr. 33, Finding 7).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council review the ALJ's
decision. (Tr. 8). See 20 C.F.R. § 404.968. The
Appeals Council declined to review this unfavorable decision.
(Tr. 1-4). On December 9, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present
appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction
of this Court on January 26, 2017. ECF No. 9. Both Parties
have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 14, 15. 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. §§