United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
ALFRED C. HOPSON PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
C. Hopson (“Plaintiff”) brings this action
pursuant to § 205(g) of Title II of the Social Security
Act (“The Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2006),
seeking judicial review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) denying his application for Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”) under Title 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. 9. Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
application for SSI was filed on April 8, 2014. (Tr. 10).
Plaintiff alleged he was disabled due to due to gout, heart
issues, a brain aneurysm, and schizophrenia. (Tr. 234).
Plaintiff alleged an onset date of October 1, 2012. (Tr. 10).
This application was denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 119-162, 165-167). Thereafter,
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his
application and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 168).
administrative hearing was held on April 20, 2016. (Tr.
39-77). Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel,
Michael Angel, at this hearing. Id. Plaintiff and
Vocational Expert (“VE”) Diana Kizer testified at
this hearing. Id. At the time of this hearing,
Plaintiff was fifty (50) years old and a tenth grade
education. (Tr. 44).
31, 2016, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying
Plaintiff's application for SSI. (Tr. 10-33). In this
decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in
Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since April
8, 2014. (Tr. 12, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined
Plaintiff had the severe impairments of gout; essential
hypertension; thoracic and lumbar spine degenerative disc
disease; mild osteoarth1itis of the left elbow; mild right
hand osteoarthritis; and affective, personality, and
substance addiction disorders. (Tr. 12, Finding 2). The ALJ
then determined Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or
medically equal the requirements of any of the Listing of
Impairments in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Regulations No. 4
(“Listings”). (Tr. 14, Finding 3).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 17-32). First, the
ALJ indicated he evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and found his claimed limitations were not
entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff retained the following RFC:
to lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally, and 10 pounds
frequently; to stand and walk about six hours total during an
ight hour work day; and to sit for about six hours total
during an eight hour work day. He can only occasionally grasp
with his right dominant hand. He can only occasionally reach,
including overhead, with his left arm. He must be allowed to
alternately sit and stand every 10 to 15 minutes throughout
the work day for the purposes of changing positions, but
without leaving the workstation. He is also limited to
unskilled work (where the tasks are no more complex than
those learned and performed by rote, with few variables and
little judgment) where supervision must be simple, direct,
concrete, and non-critical; and interpersonal contact with
supervisors and coworkers is incidental to the work
performed, e.g., assembly work, but he must not be required
to work at fast-paced production lines speeds. He can work at
a consistent pace if he has normal, regular work breaks. He
should have only occasional workplace changes. He should not
be required to travel to unfamiliar places or to use public
transportation as part of his work duties. In other words, he
can perform less than the full range of “light”
(Tr. 17, Finding 4).
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 32, Finding 5). The ALJ found
Plaintiff was not capable of performing his PRW. Id.
The ALJ, however, also determined there was other work
existing in significant numbers in the national economy
Plaintiff could perform. (Tr. 32-33, Finding 9). 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 conveyor line bakery worker with
approximately 35, 000 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 since April 8,
2014. (Tr. 33, Finding 10).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council review the ALJ's
decision. (Tr. 212-214). See 20 C.F.R. §
404.968. The Appeals Council declined to review this
unfavorable decision. (Tr. 1-6). On June 27, 2017, Plaintiff
filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to
the jurisdiction of this Court. ECF No. 9. Both Parties have
filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 21, 22. This case is now ready
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) (2006); 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. §§