United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
GREGORY P. ROBERSON PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
P. Roberson (“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 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 applications for DIB and SSI benefits
on March 27, 2015. (Tr. 15). Plaintiff alleges being disabled
due to major depressive disorder, post traumatic stress
disorder, nightmares, flashbacks, hypervigilance, anxiety,
sleep disturbance, panic attacks, hallucinations, and
suicidal ideation. (Tr. 205). Plaintiff alleges an onset date
of January 15, 2015. (Tr. 15). These applications were denied
initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 15).
Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on
his applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr.
administrative hearing was held on July 14, 2016. (Tr.
32-44). At the administrative hearing, Plaintiff was present
and was represented by counsel, Greg Giles. Id.
Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Juanita
Grant testified at this hearing. Id. On the date of
this hearing, Plaintiff was fifty-two (52) years old and had
a high school education. (Tr. 45, 206).
August 15, 2016, subsequent to the hearing, the ALJ entered
an unfavorable decision on Plaintiff's applications. (Tr.
15-26). In this decision, the ALJ determined the Plaintiff
met the insured status of the Act through March 31, 2020.
(Tr. 17, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff had
not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since January 15, 2015. (Tr. 17, Finding
determined Plaintiff had severe impairments of selective
mutism, a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major
depressive disorder, and osteoarthritis. (Tr. 17, 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. 17, Finding
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (Tr. 19-25, Finding 5). 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 for medium work except should do no more than
frequent climbing, stooping, kneeling, and crouching; can
understand, remember, and carry out only simple 1-2-3 step
instructions; can not maintain strict production quotas;
should have no more than occasional interaction with the
general public and coworkers; and would only communicate in
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 25, 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. 25, Finding 10). The ALJ based his
determination upon the testimony of the VE. Id.
Specifically, the VE testified that given all Plaintiff's
vocational factors, a hypothetical individual would be able
to perform the requirements of a representative occupation
such as a dishwasher with approximately 167, 861 such jobs in
the nation and warehouse worker with approximately 460, 520
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 January 15, 2015,
through the date of the decision. (Tr. 26, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council review the ALJ's
decision. (Tr. 7). See 20 C.F.R. § 404.968. The
Appeals Council declined to review this unfavorable decision.
(Tr. 1-3). On September 30, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present
appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction
of this Court. ECF No. 5. Both Parties have filed appeal
briefs. ECF Nos. 11, 14. 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) (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. ...