United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
MICHAEL W. LOWMAN PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,  Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Michael W. Lowman, 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) denying his claims for a period of disability
and disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental
security income (SSI) under the provisions of Titles II and
XVI of the Social Security Act (Act). 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. §
protectively filed his current applications for DIB and SSI
on September 17, 2009, alleging an inability to work since
May 1, 2012,  due to chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease (COPD), lumbar spinal stenosis, and depression. (Tr.
163). For DIB purposes, Plaintiff maintained insured status
through December 31, 2013. (Tr. 15, 834, 1533). The first
administrative hearing was held on May 19, 2010, where
Plaintiff, a witness, and a vocational expert testified.
(Tr.30-70). Subsequently, on August 26, 2010, the ALJ entered
an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications
for DIB and SSI. (Tr. 10-23). Plaintiff appealed the
ALJ's August 26, 2010, decision to this Court, and after
consideration, this Court reversed and remanded
Plaintiff's case for further development of the record.
See Lowman v. Astrue, 2:11-CV-02166 (W.D. Ark. Sept.
second hearing was held on May 5, 2014, where Plaintiff and a
vocational expert testified. (Tr. 853-877). Following the
hearing, the ALJ entered a second unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff's request for disability benefits. (Tr.
832-847). Plaintiff also appealed the ALJ's October 24,
2014, decision to this Court, and upon consideration, this
Court reversed and remanded Plaintiff's case. See
Lowman v. Colvin, 2:11-CV-02166 (W.D. Ark. Dec. 2015).
hearing was held on September 7, 2016, where Plaintiff and a
vocational expert testified. (Tr. 1547-1571). By written
decision dated December 13, 2016, the ALJ found that during
the relevant time periods, Plaintiff had severe impairments
of degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine,
dextroscoliosis of the thoracic spine, osteoarthritis of the
right knee, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),
varicose veins, insomnia, and anxiety. (Tr. 1533). However,
after reviewing all of the evidence presented, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff's impairment 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. 1534-1535).
found that Plaintiff retained the residual functional
capacity (RFC) to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR
404.1567(a) and 416.967(a), except as follows:
no climbing ropes, ladders, or scaffolds; occasional climbing
stairs and ramps; occasionally balance, crawl, kneel, stoop,
and crouch; avoid concentrated exposure to temperature
extremes, humidity, dusts, odors, gases, and similar
pulmonary irritants; avoid hazards including unprotected
heights and moving machinery; can perform simple, routine,
repetitive tasks in a setting where interpersonal contact is
incidental to work performed; can respond to supervision that
is simple, direct, and concrete.
1535-1538). With the help of a vocational expert, the ALJ
determined that while Plaintiff was unable to perform any of
his past relevant work, there were jobs that existed in
significant numbers in the national economy that he could
perform, such as small product assembler, document preparer,
and escort vehicle driver. (Tr. 1539). The ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the
Social Security Act, from May 1, 2012, his amended alleged
onset date, through December 13, 2016, the date of the
ALJ's decision. (Tr. 1539).
Plaintiff filed this action. (Doc. 1). This case is before
the undersigned pursuant to the consent of the parties. (Doc.
7). Both parties have filed appeal briefs, and the case is
now ready for decision. (Docs. 13, 14).
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).
SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED.