United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division
April 21, 2015, Willie Tinzie applied for disability
benefits, alleging disability beginning on September 24,
2014. (Tr. at 13) Mr. Tinzie's claims were denied
initially and upon reconsideration. Id. After
conducting a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) denied Mr. Tinzie's application. (Tr.
at 26) Mr. Tinzie requested that the Appeals Council review
the ALJ's decision, but that request was denied. (Tr. at
1) Therefore, the ALJ's decision now stands as the final
decision of the Commissioner. Mr. Tinzie filed this case
seeking judicial review of the decision denying his benefits.
reasons stated below, the Court reverses the ALJ's decision
and remands for further review.
The Commissioner's Decision:
found that Mr. Tinzie had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the alleged onset date of September 24, 2014.
(Tr. at 15) At step two of the five- step analysis, the ALJ
found that Mr. Tinzie had the following severe impairments:
disorder of the back, diabetes mellitus, and anxiety with
depression. (Tr. at 16)
finding that Mr. Tinzie's impairments did not meet or
equal a listed impairment (Tr. at 17), the ALJ determined
that Mr. Tinzie had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform light work with additional
limitations. (Tr. at 19) He could only perform unskilled
work, where the interpersonal contact is incidental to the
work performed, and the complexity of tasks is learned and
performed by rote, with few variables and requiring little
independent judgment. Id. The supervision at the job
must be simple, direct, and concrete, and Mr. Tinzie could
not deal with the general public. Id.
found that Mr. Tinzie was unable to perform any past relevant
work. (Tr. at 24) At step five, the ALJ relied on the
testimony of a Vocational Expert ("VE") to find,
based on Mr. Tinzie's age, education, work experience and
RFC, that he was capable of performing work in the national
economy as inspector/hand packager and routing clerk. (Tr. at
25) The ALJ determined, therefore, that Mr. Tinzie was not
Standard of Review
Court's role is to determine whether the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence. Prosch v. Apfel, 201 F.3d 1010, 1012 (8th
Cir. 2000). "Substantial evidence" in this context
means “enough that a reasonable mind would find it
adequate to support he ALJ's decision.” Id.
Slusser v. Astrue, 557 F.3d 923, 925 (8th Cir.
2009)(citation omitted). The Court must consider not only
evidence that supports the Commissioner's decision, but
also, evidence that supports a contrary outcome. The Court
cannot reverse the Commissioner's decision, however,
"merely because substantial evidence exists for the
opposite decision." Long v. Chater, 108 F.3d
185, 187 (8th Cir. 1997) (quoting Johnson v. Chater,
87 F.3d 1015, 1017 (8th Cir. 1996)).
Tinzie's Arguments on Appeal
Tinzie contends that substantial evidence does not support
the ALJ's decision to deny benefits because the record
does not support the ALJ's finding that his diabetic
peripheral neuropathy was a non-severe impairment. He also
argues that the ALJ's hypothetical question to the VE did
not account for limitations on concentration, persistence,
and pace. Mr. Tinzie's final argument is that the ALJ
improperly discounted his credibility.
Court is persuaded that the ALJ erred with respect to the
finding at step two that diabetic neuropathy was a non-severe
impairment. The Court limits its discussion to that
Tinzie suffered from diabetes. In January 2014, Stephen
Golden, M.D., who was Mr. Tinzie's primary physician,
prescribed Glyburide and Metformin for diabetes. (Tr. at
388-392) When Mr. Tinzie presented to Dr. Golden with
headaches, sweating, and dizziness on March 21, 2014, Dr.
Golden prescribed Byetta subcutaneous pen injections twice
daily. (Tr. at ...