United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Gordon Brian Cox, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), seeking judicial review of a decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(Commissioner) finding his disability ended as of September
1, 2013. In this judicial review, the Court must
determine whether there is substantial evidence in the
administrative record to support the Commissioner's
decision. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
protectively filed his claim for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits (DIB) under the provisions of
Title II of the Social Security Act (Act) on March 2, 2009,
alleging an inability to work since January 27, 2009. (Tr.
165-171). In a determination dated June 11, 2009, Plaintiff
was found disabled as of January 27, 2009. (Tr. 78-79). In a
subsequent determination dated September 20, 2013,
Plaintiff's disability was found to have ceased as of
September 1, 2013, finding medical improvement related to the
ability to work was demonstrated, and Plaintiff was able to
engage in substantial gainful activity (“SGA”).
(Tr. 80-81, 86-88). This unfavorable determination was upheld
upon reconsideration. (Tr. 82, 97-119).
Plaintiff filed timely written request for a hearing before
an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). An
administrative hearing was held on January 13, 2015, at which
Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified. (Tr. 29-77).
By written decision dated April 24, 2015, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff's disability ended as of September 1, 2013.
most recent favorable decision finding Plaintiff was disabled
was dated June 11, 2009, and this is known as the comparison
point decision (“CPD”). At the time of the CPD,
Plaintiff had the following medically determinable
impairments: Musculoskeletal Disorder (Back disorder,
degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine); Respiratory
Disorder (Asthma); and Mental Disorders (Mood/Affective
Disorders, depression, anxiety) and (Organic Mental Disorder,
cognitive disorder). (Tr. 12). These impairments were found
to result in a residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) that determined Plaintiff was disabled.
September 1, 2013, Plaintiff did not engage in SGA. (Tr. 12).
The ALJ found that medical evidence established Plaintiff did
not develop any additional impairments after the CPD through
September 1, 2013, thus Plaintiff continued to have the same
impairments that he had at the time of the CPD. (Tr. 12).
Since September 1, 2013, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or equal the level
of severity of any impairment listed in the Listing of
Impairments found in Appendix I, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4.
(Tr. 12-14). The ALJ determined medical improvement occurred
as of September 1, 2013 because medical evidence supported a
finding there was a decrease in the medical severity of the
impairments. (Tr. 14). The ALJ found Plaintiff retained the
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except as
follows: The claimant can frequently lift and/or carry ten
pounds, and occasionally twenty pounds, push and/or pull
within the limits of lifting and carrying, sit for a total of
six hours in an eight hour workday, and stand and/or walk for
a total of six hours in an eight hour workday. He cannot work
at unprotected heights or around dangerous machinery. He is
able to perform work where interpersonal contact is
incidental to the work performed, the tasks are learned and
performed by rote, there are few variables, little judgment
is required and the supervision required is simple, direct,
determined Plaintiff's medical improvement was related to
the ability to work because it resulted in an increase in the
Plaintiff's RFC. (Tr. 20). As of September 1, 2013,
Plaintiff's impairments were severe, and he was unable to
perform past relevant work. (Tr. 20). With the help of a
vocational expert, the ALJ determined Plaintiff could perform
work as a price marker, housekeeper, and routing clerk. (Tr.
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied that request on June 10, 2016.
(Tr. 1-3). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action. (Doc.
1). This case is before the undersigned pursuant to the
consent of the parties. (Doc. 5). Both parties have filed
appeal briefs, and the case is now ready for decision. (Docs.
Court's role is to determine whether the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence on the record as a whole. Ramirez v.
Barnhart, 292 F.3d 576, 583 (8th Cir. 2002). Substantial
evidence is less than a preponderance but it is enough that a
reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the
Commissioner's decision. The ALJ's decision must be
affirmed if the record contains substantial evidence to
support it. Edwards v. Barnhart, 314 F.3d 964, 966
(8th Cir. 2003). 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. Haley v. Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747
(8th Cir. 2001). In other words, 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. Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065, 1068 (8th
Court has reviewed the entire transcript and the parties'
briefs. For the reasons stated in the ALJ's well-reasoned
opinion and the Government's brief, the Court finds
Plaintiff's arguments on appeal to be without merit and
finds that the record as a whole reflects substantial
evidence to support the ALJ's decision. Accordingly, the
ALJ's decision is hereby summarily affirmed and
Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed with prejudice.
See Sledge v. Astrue, No. 08-0089, 2008 WL 4816675
(W.D. Mo. Oct. 31, 2008) (summarily affirming ALJ's
denial of disability benefits), aff'd, 364
Fed.Appx. 307 (8th Cir. 2010).