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Tinzie v. Social Security Administration

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division

May 1, 2018

WILLIE TINZIE PLAINTIFF
v.
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION DEFENDANT

          ORDER

         I. Introduction:

         On 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.

         For the reasons stated below, the Court[1] reverses the ALJ's decision and remands for further review.

         II. The Commissioner's Decision:

         The ALJ 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)

         After 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.

         The ALJ 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 disabled. Id.

         III. Discussion:

         A. Standard of Review

         The 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)).

         B. Mr. Tinzie's Arguments on Appeal

         Mr. 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.

         The 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 impairment.

         Mr. 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.[2] (Tr. at ...


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