United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division
Boyce Simons, applied for disability benefits on September
25, 2014, alleging a disability onset date of June 10, 2012
(Tr. at 21). After conducting a hearing, the Administrative
Law Judge (AALJ) denied his application. (Tr. at 34). The
Appeals Council denied his request for review. (Tr. at 1).
The ALJ's decision now stands as the final decision of
the Commissioner, and Simons has requested judicial review.
reasons stated below, the Court affirms the decision of the
The Commissioner's Decision:
found that Simons had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the alleged onset date of June 10, 2012. (Tr.
at 23). The ALJ found, at Step Two of the sequential
five-step analysis, that Simons has the following severe
impairments: degenerative disc disease of the lumbar and
cervical spine, bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome,
hypertension, and obesity. Id.
Three, the ALJ determined that Simons's impairments did
not meet or equal a listed impairment. (Tr. at 25). Before
proceeding to Step Four, the ALJ determined that Simons had
the residual functional capacity (ARFC@) to perform work at
the light level, except that: (1) he can only occasionally
climb, stoop, crouch, kneel, and crawl; (2) he cannot perform
overhead reaching with the left, non-dominant arm; (3) he can
only frequently reach and handle; and (4) he is limited to
standing and walking for two-hour intervals before he must
take a break. (Tr. at 27).
made no finding at Step Four regarding past relevant
work. (Tr. at 30-31). The ALJ relied on the
testimony of a Vocational Expert ("VE") to find
that, based on Simons's age, education, work experience
and RFC, jobs existed in significant numbers in the national
economy that he could perform. (Tr. at 32). Based on that
determination, the ALJ held that Simons was not disabled.
(Tr. at 32-34).
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 less than a preponderance but more than a
scintilla. Slusser v. Astrue, 557 F.3d 923, 925 (8th
Cir. 2009). In other words, it is “enough that a
reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the
ALJ's decision.” Id. (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 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)).
Simons's Arguments on Appeal
contends that substantial evidence does not support the
ALJ's decision to deny benefits. He argues that the RFC
for reaching exceeded his functional capacity, and that the
ALJ erred in the weight he assigned to two doctors'
opinions. For the following reasons, the Court finds that
substantial evidence supports the ALJ's decision.
medical records exist in the record for the two years
following the alleged onset date, and the Court takes note of
this. The failure to seek regular and continuing treatment
contradicts allegations of disability. See Gwathney v.
Chater, 104 F.3d 1043, 1045 (8th Cir. 1997).
complaining of burning and numbness in his arms, along with
neck pain, Simons had a nerve conduction study done on May
28, 2014. (Tr. at 298-300, 318-319). The study showed
bilateral median neuropathy across the wrists of a mild to
moderate nature, without active denervation or reinnervation.
Id. No polyneuropathy or myopathy was present.
Id. Carpal tunnel ...