United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
White (“Plaintiff”) brings this action pursuant
to § 205(g) of Title II of the Social Security Act
(“The Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2010),
seeking judicial review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) denying his applications for a Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI
of the Act.
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. 7. Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
protectively filed his disability applications on June 23,
2010. (Tr. 130-135). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges
being disabled due to bi-polar disorder and manic depression.
(Tr. 157). Plaintiff alleged an onset date of April 1, 2009.
(Tr. 407). These applications were denied initially and again
upon reconsideration. (Tr. 42-54).
14, 2016, Plaintiff had an administrative hearing on his
applications. (Tr. 545-589). Plaintiff was present and was
represented by Shannon Muse Carroll. Id. Plaintiff,
his father Harriel White, and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Stanley McKisisck testified at this
hearing. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff testified he
was thirty-five (35) years old and had a college education.
August 18, 2016, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff's applications. (Tr. 402-412). The ALJ
found Plaintiff had not obtained the age of 22 as of May 1,
2002, the alleged onset date of Plaintiff's child
disability claim. (Tr. 405, Finding 1). In this decision, the
ALJ found Plaintiff met the disability insured status
requirements of the Act through March 31, 2011. (Tr. 405,
Finding 2). The ALJ also found Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity (“SGA”) since April
1, 2009, the alleged onset date. (Tr. 405, Finding 3).
then found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, and borderline
intellectual functioning. (Tr. 405, Finding 4). Despite being
severe, the ALJ determined those impairments did not meet or
medically equal the requirements of any of the Listings of
Impairments in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Regulations No. 4
(“Listings”). (Tr. 405, Finding 5).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 407-411, Finding 6).
First, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and found his claimed limitations were not
entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff retained the RFC to perform a full range of work at
all exertional levels but is able to perform unskilled work
consisting of simple, routine, and repetitive task jobs with
simple, direct, and concrete supervision; the work must be
classified as SVP 1 and 2 level jobs that can be learned
within 30 days; can tolerate no more than occasional changes
to the workplace; and should not have contact with the
general public in order to complete job tasks. Id.
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 411, Finding 7). The ALJ found
Plaintiff had no PRW. Id. The ALJ, however, also
determined there was other work existing in significant
numbers in the national economy Plaintiff could perform. (Tr.
411, Finding 11). 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 teaching
counselor with 251, 140 such jobs in the nation and cook
helper with 396, 202 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 April 1,
2009, through the date of the decision. (Tr. 412, Finding
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's unfavorable decision. (Tr. 413). On December 12,
2016, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both
Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 15, 16. 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) (2010); 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. §§