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Formby v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

April 11, 2018

MICHAEL W. FORMBY PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Michael W. Formby (“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, Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), and Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title 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.

         1.Background:

         Plaintiff protectively filed his disability applications on February 6, 2014 (DIB) and on May 15, 2014 (SSI). (Tr. 113). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to lumbar spondylosis. (Tr. 248). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of October 30, 2013. (Tr. 113). His applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 149-169).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his denied applications. (Tr. 180-181). This hearing request was granted, and Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on September 23, 2015 in Texarkana, Arkansas. (Tr. 126-148). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Greg Giles. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) James Wallace testified at this hearing. Id.

         On February 4, 2016, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's disability applications. (Tr. 110-121). The ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2018. (Tr. 115, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since October 30, 2013, his alleged onset date. (Tr. 115, Finding 3). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine and lumbar levoscoliosis. (Tr. 115-117, Finding 3). The ALJ also determined that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that 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. 117, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 117-119, Finding 5). First, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff' subjective complaints and found they were not entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following RFC:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except the claimant can occasionally balance, knee, crouch, crawl, stoop, and climb ramps/stairs, but no climbing of ladders, ropes, or scaffolds.

Id.

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 119, Finding 6). Considering his RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff did not retain the capacity to perform his PRW. (Tr. 119, Finding 6). Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability (as defined by the Act) from October 30, 2013 (alleged onset date) through February 4, 2016 (ALJ's decision date). (Tr. 121, Finding 11).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. On May 8, 2017, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-3). On May 26, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this case. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs and have consented to the jurisdiction of this Court. ECF Nos. 5, 11-12. This case is now ready for determination.

         2. Applicable Law:

         In 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 ...


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