United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
KENNY D. ANDERSON PLAINTIFF
NANCY BERRYHILL Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Anderson (“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”) 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. 8. Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
application for SSI was filed on May 25, 2012 and for DIB on
September 22, 2015. (Tr. 9). Plaintiff alleged he was
disabled due to a broken bone in his neck, pain in fingers,
and no feelings on right side. (Tr. 278). Plaintiff alleged
an onset date of May 18, 2012. (Tr. 9). These applications
were denied initially and again upon reconsideration.
Id. Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an
administrative hearing on his applications and this hearing
request was granted. (Tr. 136).
initial administrative hearing was held on May 30, 2013. (Tr.
58-84). Following this, on July 17, 2013, the ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision, which the Appeals Council remanded on
September 22, 2014. (Tr. 108-118, 122-124).
remand, the ALJ held a second hearing on April 6, 2016. (Tr.
29-57). Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel,
Charles Padgham, at this hearing. Id. Plaintiff and
Vocational Expert (“VE”) Diana Kizer testified at
this hearing. Id. At the time of this hearing,
Plaintiff was forty-two (48) years old and had an eighth
grade education. (Tr. 35, 53).
2, 2016, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying
Plaintiff's applications for DIB and SSI. (Tr. 9-23). In
this decision, the ALJ determined the Plaintiff met the
insured status requirements of the Act through December 31,
2017. (Tr. 11, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff
had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since May 18, 2012, the alleged onset
date. (Tr. 11, Finding 2).
determined Plaintiff had the severe impairments of
degenerative disc disease status post cervical fusion with
residuals after December 8, 2012 and seizures. (Tr. 12,
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. 15,
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 16-21). 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 to perform light work with
unlimited stooping; no more than occasional climbing of ramps
and stairs but no climbing of ladders, ropes, and scaffolds;
occasional balancing and kneeling with no crouching and
crawling; occasional overhead reaching with the left arm; and
occasional grasping and feeling with the left hand. (Tr. 16).
The ALJ also determined Plaintiff possessed an additional
limitation against moderate exposure to hazards such as open
flames, unprotected heights, and dangerous moving machinery
beginning on December 8, 2014. Id.
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 21, 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. 22, finding 10). The ALJ based this
determination upon the testimony of the VE. Id.
Specifically, the VE testified that given all Plaintiff's
vocational factors, prior to December 8, 2014, a hypothetical
individual would be able to perform the requirements of
representative occupations such as conveyor line bakery
worker with 35, 000 such jobs in the nation and counter clerk
with 40, 000 such jobs in the nation. After December 8, 2014,
Plaintiff would be able to perform the requirements of
representative occupations such as conveyor line bakery
worker with 35, 000 such jobs in the nation and dealer
account investigator with 42, 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 May 8, 2012, through the date of the decision. (Tr.
23, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council review the ALJ's
decision. (Tr. 5). See 20 C.F.R. § 404.968. The
Appeals Council declined to review this unfavorable decision.
(Tr. 1-4). On February 28, 2017, Plaintiff filed the present
appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction
of this Court on March 16, 2017. ECF No. 8. Both Parties have
filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 12, 13. This case is now ready
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. ...