United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Roy Couture (“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 Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI
of the Act.
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. 11. 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 October 4,
2013. (Tr. 21). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges
being disabled due to seizures. (Tr. 259). Plaintiff alleged
an onset date of March 1, 2011. Id. These
applications were denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 21).
November 2, 2015, Plaintiff had an administrative hearing on
his applications. (Tr. 38-92). Plaintiff was present and was
represented by Russell J. Byrne. Id. Plaintiff, and
Vocational Expert (“VE”) Thomas Mungall III,
testified at this hearing. Id. At this hearing,
Plaintiff testified he was fifty (50) years old and had a
seventh grade education. (Tr. 45, 48).
April 1, 2016, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff's applications. (Tr. 21-32). In this
decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status
requirements of the Act through September 30, 2015. (Tr. 23,
Finding 1). The ALJ also found Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity (“SGA”) since March
1, 2011, the alleged onset date. (Tr. 23, Finding 2).
then found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease, seizure disorder and affective
disorder. (Tr. 23, Finding 3). The ALJ then determined those
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.
24, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 25-30). First, the
ALJ indicated she 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 is limited
to frequent climbing of ramps and stairs; never climbing
ladders, ropes or scaffolds; never balancing; and frequent
stooping kneeling, crouching or crawling; precluded from
exposure to hazards such as unprotected heights, moving
mechanical parts or operating a motor vehicle; limited to
routine and repetitive tasks, not performed at production
rate pace; simple work-related decisions; only occasional
interaction with supervisors, coworkers and the public; and
few changes in a routine work setting. Id.
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 30, Finding 6). The ALJ found
Plaintiff was unable to perform any PRW. Id. The
ALJ, however, also determined there was other work existing
in significant numbers in the national economy Plaintiff
could perform. (Tr. 30, Finding 10). The ALJ based this
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 representative occupations
such as kitchen helper with 544, 148 such jobs in the nation,
housekeeping with 229, 918 such jobs in the nation, and day
worker with 856, 481 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 March 1,
2011, through the date of the decision. (Tr. 31, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's unfavorable decision. (Tr. 16-17). The Appeals
Council declined to review this unfavorable decision. (Tr.
2-4). On May 19, 2017, Plaintiff filed the present appeal.
ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos.
16, 17. 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) (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. §§