United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
JEFF A. DIXON PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Dixon (“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 application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and a period of
disability under Title II of the Act.
to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and (3)
(2009), the Honorable P. K. Holmes, III referred this case to
this Court for the purpose of making a report and
recommendation. In accordance with that referral, and after
reviewing the arguments in this case, this Court recommends
Plaintiff's case be REVERSED AND
protectively filed his disability application on May 15,
2013. (Tr. 13, 135-138). In his application, Plaintiff
alleges being disabled due to right elbow synovitis, right
wrist arthritis, left arm pain, and neck pain. (Tr. 170).
Plaintiff alleges an onset date of April 30, 2012. (Tr. 13).
This application was denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 63-82).
requested an administrative hearing on his denied
application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr.
25-47, 91-92). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was
held on October 29, 2014 in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was
represented by Kristopher Ramsfield. Id. Plaintiff
and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Larry Seifert
testified at this hearing. Id.
6, 2015, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying
Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 10-20). In this decision,
the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements
of the Act through December 31, 2017. (Tr. 15, Finding 1).
The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial
Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since April 30, 2012,
his alleged onset date. (Tr. 15, Finding 2). The ALJ found
Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: status post
left biceps tendon rupture and repair; degenerative disc
disease of the cervical spine; osteoarthritis of the right
elbow; and osteoarthritis of the bilateral wrists. (Tr. 15,
Finding 3). 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.
15-16, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 16-19, Finding 5).
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 the following:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform the full range of sedentary
work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a).
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 19-20, Finding 6). Specifically,
the ALJ determined Plaintiff's PRW included work as a
checker II. Id. Considering his RFC, the ALJ found
Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this PRW.
Id. As such, because Plaintiff retained the capacity
to perform his PRW, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been
under a disability, as defined by the Act, from April 30,
2012 through the date of the ALJ's decision or through
May 6, 2015. (Tr. 20, Finding 7).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's unfavorable decision. (Tr. 7). On June 15, 2016,
the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr.
1-3). On August 4, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present appeal.
ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos.
10-11. 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 ...