United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division
STEVEN A. FLYNN PLAINTIFF
NANCY BERRYHILL Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
A. Flynn (“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 period of
disability, 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. 5.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 May 26,
2010. (Tr. 133-136). In his applications, Plaintiff alleges
being disabled due to bulging discs in his back, a right
shoulder injury that “never healed, ” high blood
pressure, anxiety, depression, a sternum fracture, cervical
spasms, fibromyalgia, pneumonia, lumbar dysfunction,
degenerative changes in his back, central disc bulge at
¶ 3 to L4, right shoulder problems, and restless leg
syndrome. (Tr. 162). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of April
30, 2009. (Tr. 133-135). These applications were denied
initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 70-73).
Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on
his applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr.
initial administrative hearing was held on August 23, 2011.
(Tr. 27-69). Following this, on October 28, 2011, the ALJ
entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's
applications for DIB and SSI. (Tr. 10-21). The Appeals
Council denied review and Plaintiff appealed this decision.
On January 16, 2014, this Court remanded the case due to the
ALJ improperly finding at step two of the sequential
evaluation that Plaintiff's depression was a nonsevere
impairment. (Tr. 542-549).
remand, Plaintiff had administrative hearings on December 2,
2014 and May 25, 2016. (Tr. 412-453, 454-483). Plaintiff was
present and was represented by Frederick Spencer at these
hearings. Id. Plaintiff's date of birth was
September 16, 1966, and he had obtained his GED. (Tr. 163,
August 9, 2016, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff's applications for DIB and SSI. (Tr.
367-380). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the
insured status requirements of the Act through December 31,
2014. (Tr. 369, Finding 1). The ALJ then determined Plaintiff
had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since April 30, 2009, his alleged onset
date. (Tr. 370, Finding 2).
determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease, disorder of the right shoulder,
and major depressive disorder (Tr. 370, Finding 3). 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. 370, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 372-379, 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 light work except can
only occasionally climb, push and pull, and reach overhead
with his dominant right upper extremity; frequently balance,
stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl, handle, finger, feel, reach in
all other directions bilaterally, and operate foot controls;
limited to work involving only simple, routine, and
repetitive tasks; simple, work-related decisions with few, if
any, workplace changes; and no more than incidental contact
with coworkers, supervisors, and the general public. (Tr.
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”) and found Plaintiff was unable to perform
any of his PRW. (Tr. 379, Finding 6). The ALJ then determined
whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work
existing in significant numbers in the national economy.
Id. The VE testified at the administrative hearing
regarding this issue. Id. Based upon that testimony,
the ALJ found Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform
occupations such as inspector tester content with 14, 108
such jobs in the national economy and 202 such jobs in the
region; office helper with 41, 166 such jobs in the national
economy and 242 such jobs in the region, and bottle line
attendant with 22, 001 such jobs in the national economy and
156 such jobs in the region. (Tr. 380). Based upon this
testimony, the ALJ found Plaintiff had not been under a
disability as defined by the Act from April 30, 2009 through
the date of his decision. (Tr. 380, Finding 11).
on October 28, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF
No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this
Court on November 1, 2016. ECF No. 5. Both Parties have filed
appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 12, 13. This case is now ready for
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. §§