United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
DANNY W. HALL PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
W. Hall (“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 Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”), Disability Insurance
Benefits (“DIB”), and a period of disability
under Titles 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. 7. 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 March 9,
2015. (Tr. 40, 211-224). In his applications, Plaintiff
alleges he was disabled due to a back injury, a separated
left shoulder, a torn rotator cuff, hernia repairs, and a
weakened knee. (Tr. 250). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of
September 25, 2014. (Tr. 40). These applications were denied
initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 81-132).
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his
applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr.
158-185). An administrative hearing was held on April 12,
2016 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. (Tr. 57-80). At the
administrative hearing, Plaintiff was present and was
represented by counsel, David K. Harp. Id. Plaintiff
and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Dr. Stafford
testified at this hearing. Id. On the date of this
hearing, Plaintiff testified he was forty-nine (49) years
old, which is defined as a “younger person” under
20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c) (SSI) and 20 C.F.R. §
404.1563(c) (DIB), and testified he had completed the twelfth
grade in school. (Tr. 59).
2, 2016, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision on
Plaintiff's disability applications. (Tr. 37-50). In this
decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status
requirements of the Act through March 31, 2018. (Tr. 42,
Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in
Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since
December 23, 2014, his alleged onset date. (Tr. 42, Finding
2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: hypertension, degenerative disc disease of the
lumbar and cervical spine; osteoarthritis; and a history of
inguinal hernia status post-surgery. (Tr. 42-43, Finding 3).
The ALJ, however, also determined Plaintiff did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R.
Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 43, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 43-48, Finding 5).
First, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined they were not entirely credible.
Id. Second, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained
the RFC for the following:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform the full range of sedentary
work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a).
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”) and determined he was unable to perform
any of his PRW. (Tr. 48-49, Finding 6). The ALJ did, however,
determine Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other
work existing in significant numbers in the national economy.
(Tr. 49, Finding 11). The ALJ based this determination upon
the Medical-Vocational Guidelines or “Grids.”
Id. Specifically, the ALJ applied Grid Rule 201.21,
which directed a finding of “not disabled.”
requested that the Appeals Council's review the ALJ's
unfavorable disability determination. (Tr.1). On May 3, 2017,
the Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's
disability determination. (Tr. 1-4). On June 21, 2017,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties
consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on July 6, 2017.
ECF No. 7. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos.
13-14. This case is now ready for decision.
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. SeeHaley v. Massanari,258 F.3d 742, 747 (8th Cir.
2001). If, after reviewing the record, it is possible to draw