United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division
CARL C. BAKER PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Baker (“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 Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and a period of
disability under Title II 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. 8. 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 application on Feburary 4,
2014. (Tr. 83). In his application, Plaintiff alleges he was
disabled due heart disease and a history of pneumonia. (Tr.
246). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of January 21, 2014.
(Tr. 83). This application was denied initially and again
upon reconsideration. (Tr. 147-157).
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his
application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr.
104-146). An administrative hearing was held on December 1,
2015 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Id. At the
administrative hearing, Plaintiff was present and was
represented by counsel, William Mouser. Id.
Plaintiff, Vocational Expert (“VE”) Charles
Turner, and a witness for Plaintiff testified at this
hearing. Id. On the date of this hearing, Plaintiff
testified he was fifty-three (53) years old, which is defined
as a “person closely approaching advanced age”
under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (DIB), and testified he
had completed the twelfth grade in school. (Tr. 108, 112).
March 10, 2016, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision on
Plaintiff's disability application. (Tr. 80-98). In this
decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status
requirements of the Act through December 31, 2018. (Tr. 85,
Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in
Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since
January 21, 2014, his alleged onset date. (Tr. 85, Finding
2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: coronary artery disease status post coronary
artery bypass grafting and stenting, unstable angina,
degenerative disc disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease, and depression. (Tr. 85-86, 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.86-88, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 88-95, 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 occasional climbing, stooping,
crouching, kneeling, and crawling. Some occasional balancing.
By occasional balancing, the claimant should not be working
on ladders, scaffolding, or unrestricted heights. The
claimant can perform light exertional work lifting 20 pounds
occasionally and 10 pounds more frequently. He can sit six to
eight hours. The claimant can stand and walk four to six
hours, one to two without interruption. However, because of
the issues concerning angina and chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease (COPD), the claimant is restricted from
working in temperature extremes, extreme cold or extreme
heat, so it has to be inside climate-controlled. The claimant
is restricted from working with heavy chemicals, heavy dust,
and heavy fumes. Mentally, the undersigned finds the
claimant's depression to be more of an adjustment
disorder. However, because of his educational level and
perhaps borderline intellect, even though he performed
semi-skilled work, the future work would be unskilled an
rote. The claimant can understand, follow, and remember
concrete instructions with very little ready and writing in
the job, very basic skills. His contact with the public would
be superficial. He can meet, greet, give simple instructions
and directions, but would be unable to work as a cashier in
terms of making change or handling money or working at a bank
handling money (20 CFR 404.1567(b)).
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”) and determined he was unable to perform
any of his PRW. (Tr. 96, Finding 6). The ALJ did, however,
determine Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other
work existing in significant numbers in the national economy.
(Tr. 96-97, Finding 10). The VE testified at the
administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id.
Based upon this testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff
retained the capacity to perform the following unskilled,
light work: (1) inspecting work (lamp inspector with
approximately 100, 000 such jobs in the national economy) and
(2) machine tending work (bench press operator with
approximately 380, 000 such jobs in the national economy).
Id. Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to
perform this other work, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not
been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from January
21, 2014 through the date of his decision, or through March
10, 2016. (Tr. 97, Finding 11).
requested that the Appeals Council's review the ALJ's
unfavorable disability determination. (Tr.1-3). On June 19,
2017, the Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's
disability determination. Id. On August 11, 2017,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties
consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on August 24,
2017. ECF No. 8. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF
Nos. 12-13. 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. See Haley v.
Massanari,258 F.3d 742, 747 (8th Cir. 2001). If, after
reviewing the record, it is possible to ...