United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Walker (“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.
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.
protectively filed his disability applications on January 26,
2015. (Tr. 21). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges
being disabled due to PTSD, depression, sleep disorder,
gastrointestinal problems, and high blood pressure. (Tr.
246). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of June 1, 2012. (Tr.
21). His applications were denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 71-118).
requested an administrative hearing on his denied
applications. This hearing request was granted, and
Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on January 4,
2016 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. (Tr. 42-70). At this hearing,
Plaintiff was present and was represented by R. Scott
Johnson. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Barbara Hubbard testified at this hearing.
April 1, 2016, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ
entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's
disability applications. (Tr. 18-35). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act
through December 31, 2016. (Tr. 23, Finding 1). The ALJ
determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful
Activity (“SGA”) since June 1, 2012, his alleged
onset date. (Tr. 23, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff
had the following severe impairments: ventral incisional
hernia repair; obesity; gout; gastroesophageal reflux disease
(GERD); bilateral hearing loss and tinnitus; major depressive
disorder; and PTSD with a history of child emotional,
psychological, and physical abuse. (Tr. 23-24, 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. 24-27, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (Tr. 27-33, Finding 5). First, the ALJ
evaluated Plaintiff's 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, I find that
the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform
sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and
416.967(a) except no ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; no
unprotected heights; no work around loud noises; can
understand, remember, and carry out simple instructions and
tasks; and can interact appropriately with supervisors,
coworkers, and the public but only occasional interaction
with the public.
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”) and found Plaintiff was unable to perform
any of his PRW. (Tr. 33, Finding 6). Based upon this finding,
the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability
(as defined by the Act) from June 1, 2012 through the date of
her decision or through April 1, 2016. (Tr. 34, Finding 11).
sought review with the Appeals Council. On April 27, 2017,
the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr.
1-3). On June 8, 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,
13-14. This case is now ready for determination.
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 ...