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Chrisman v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division

February 16, 2018

ROBERT MICHAEL CHRISMAN PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Robert Michael Chrisman (“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.

         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. 5. 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 October 20, 2014. (Tr. 18). In his application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to cancer, anemia, and complications from cancer. (Tr. 156). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of April 15, 2005. (Tr. 18). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 49-76).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on October 27, 2015. (Tr. 81-82). This request was granted, and Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on March 21, 2016. (Tr. 30-48). Thereafter, on October 14, 2016, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 15-23). In this decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through March 31, 2019. (Tr. 20, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) from April of 2005 until December of 2013. (Tr. 20, Finding 2). Thus, the ALJ found the relevant time period began after December of 2013 when his SGA ceased.

         During the relevant time-period, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: anemia, malignant neoplasm of the colon, and malignant neoplasm of the bladder. (Tr. 20, Finding 4). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff's 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. 21, Finding 5).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 21-22, 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 capacity to perform the following:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) except frequent foot controls; can frequently be exposed to unprotected heights; can tolerate moderate noise, like that in a normal office setting.

Id.

         The ALJ then considered Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 22, Finding 7). Considering his RFC and other vocational considerations, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform his PRW as a chief executive officer. (Tr. 22, Finding 7). Because he retained the capacity to perform this PRW, the ALJ found he was not under a disability (as defined by the Act) from April 15, 2005 through the date of his decision or through October 19, 2016. (Tr. 22, Finding 8).

         Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of this decision. This request was denied; and on February 23, 2017, Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this action. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs and have consented to the jurisdiction of this Court. ECF Nos. 5, 14-15. 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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