United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Hamilton (“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 application for a period of
disability and Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II of the Act.
to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and (3)
(2009), the Honorable P. K. Holmes, III referred this case to
this Court for the purpose of making a report and
recommendation. In accordance with that referral, and after
reviewing the arguments in this case, this Court recommends
Plaintiff's case be AFFIRMED.
protectively filed his disability application on May 1, 2015.
(Tr. 10). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due to back pain. (Tr. 151). Plaintiff alleges an
onset date of November 10, 2013. (Tr. 10). This application
was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr.
54-65). Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative
hearing, and that hearing request was granted. (Tr. 22-53).
Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on January 7,
2016 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Id.
hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by
counsel, Susan Brockett. (Tr. 22-53). Plaintiff and
Vocational Expert (“VE”) Monty Lumpkin testified
at this hearing. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff
testified he was forty-eight (48) years old, which is defined
as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. §
404.1563(c) (2008). (Tr. 25). As for his education, Plaintiff
testified he had graduated from high school. Id.
20, 2016, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying
Plaintiff's DIB application. (Tr. 7-17). In this
decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status
requirements of the Act through December 31, 2018. (Tr. 12,
Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in
Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since
November 10, 2013, his alleged onset date. (Tr. 12, Finding
2). The ALJ found Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: pain and reduced range of motion of the lumbar
spine related to early degenerative disc disease. (Tr. 12,
Finding 3). Despite being severe, the ALJ determined those
impairments did not 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.
12-13, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 13-6, Finding 5).
First, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and found his claimed limitations were not
entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff retained the RFC to perform 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 light work
as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b).
Id. The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past
Relevant Work (“PRW”) and found Plaintiff was
unable to perform any of his PRW. (Tr. 16, Finding 6).
then considered whether there was other work Plaintiff could
perform, considering his age, education, work experience, and
RFC. (Tr. 16, Finding 10). In making this determination, the
ALJ applied the Medical-Vocational Guidelines or “the
Grids.” Specifically, the ALJ applied Rule 202.20 of
the Grids and determined Plaintiff was “not
disabled.” Id. Based upon this finding, the
ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as
defined by the Act, from November 10, 2013 through the date
of his decision or through July 25, 2016. (Tr. 16, Finding
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's decision. On May 26, 2017, the Appeals Council
denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-3). On June 28, 2017,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. 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) (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 ...