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Haymon v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

January 26, 2018

THEODIS HAYMON PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Theodis Haymon (“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 Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title 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. 8. Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.

         1. Background:

         Plaintiff protectively filed his disability application on December 9, 2011. (Tr. 23). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to stomach ulcers, pain in his joints, back problems, and rectal bleeding. (Tr. 147). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of May 23, 2011. (Tr. 331). Plaintiff's application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 73-74). Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing; and after that hearing, Plaintiff's disability application was denied. (Tr. 20- 34). Plaintiff appealed that denial to this Court, and the Court reversed and remanded Plaintiff's case for further administrative consideration.[1] (Tr. 434).

         Thereafter, the ALJ held a second administrative hearing on July 11, 2016 in Texarkana, Arkansas. (Tr. 346-357). At that hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Donna Price. Id. Only Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Juanita Grant testified at this hearing. Id.

         On August 25, 2016, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's SSI application. (Tr. 328-340). In this decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since December 9, 2011, his application date. (Tr. 333, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: schizoaffective disorder, obesity, hypertension, and osteoarthritis. (Tr. 333, Finding 2). 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. 333-334, Finding 3).

         In this decision, the ALJ also evaluated Plaintiff's age and education level. (Tr. 339, Findings 6-7). Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff was born on December 4, 1959 and was fifty-two (52) years old on his application date. (Tr. 339, Finding 6). At this age, he was characterized as a “person closely approaching advanced age” under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(d) (2008). (Tr. 339, Finding 6). As for his education, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had at least a high school education was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 339, Finding 7).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 335-339, Finding 4). 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 light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except he can only occasionally perform postural activities; can follow simple one-two-three step instructions; can no more than occasionally interact with the public and co-workers; and cannot meet strict production quotas.

Id.

         The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 339, Finding 5). Considering his limitations, the ALJ determined Plaintiff could not perform his PRW as a production worker and as a construction worker. Id. The ALJ, however, also evaluated whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 339-340, Finding 9). Specifically, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the following occupations: blending tech helper with 55, 600 such jobs in the national economy and scaling machine operator with 62, 570 such jobs in the national economy. Id. Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this other work, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined in the Act, from December 9, 2011 (application date) through October 23, 2014 (date the ALJ determined Plaintiff was disabled on a prior application). (Tr. 340, Finding 10). On November 22, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 12-13. This case is now ready for decision.

         2. Applicable Law:

         In 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 ...


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