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Serafin v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

June 18, 2018

KENT SERAFIN, PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Kent Serafin (“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.

         The 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.[1] Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.

         1. Background:

         Plaintiff protectively filed his DIB application on February 19, 2015. (Tr. 10). In his application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to bipolar disorder, delusions, anxiety, hyperactivity, panic attacks, paranoia, and psychotic issues. (Tr. 231). At the administrative hearing in this matter, the ALJ also discussed Plaintiff's carpal tunnel syndrome and peripheral neuropathy. (Tr. 37). Plaintiff alleged an onset date of November 15, 2012. (Tr. 10). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 115-142).

         After Plaintiff's application was denied, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 27-85). Thereafter, on July 7, 2016, the SSA held an administrative hearing on Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 27-85). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Shannon Muse Carroll. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Stephanie Ford testified at this hearing. Id.

         On August 11, 2016, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 7-22). The ALJ found Plaintiff last met the insured status requirements of the Act on March 31, 2015. (Tr. 12, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff did not engage in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) from his alleged onset date of November 15, 2012 through his date last insured of March 31, 2015. (Tr. 12, Finding 2). Through his date last insured, Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder. (Tr. 12, Finding 3).

         The ALJ also determined Plaintiff's 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. 12-14, Finding 4). The ALJ determined Plaintiff was fifty-three (53) years old, which is defined as an “individual closely approaching advanced age” pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (2008), on his date last insured. (Tr. 21, Finding 7). As for his education, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had at least a high school education and was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 21, Finding 8).

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and assessed his Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 14-20, Finding 5). After assessing his subjective complaints, the ALJ determined his allegations were not entirely credible and found he retained the following RFC:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that, through the date last insured, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform unskilled work at all exertional levels. He is limited to work where interpersonal contact is only incidental to the work performed; tasks need to be learned by rote; contain few variables and require little judgment; any necessary supervision would need to be simple, direct, and concrete.

Id. The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 20-21, Finding 6). Considering his RFC, the ALJ determined that, through his date last insured, Plaintiff could not perform any of his PRW. Id.

         The ALJ also considered whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 21-22, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id. Based upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the following occupations: dishwasher (medium, unskilled) with approximately 276, 000 such jobs in the national economy and housekeeper (light, unskilled) with approximately 137, 000 such jobs in the national economy. Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined in the Act, from November 15, 2012 (alleged onset date) through March 31, 2015 (Plaintiff's date last insured). (Tr. 22, Finding 11).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the review of the Appeals Council. On July 20, 2017, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-3). On August 14, 2017, Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this matter. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on August 15, 2017. ECF No. 7. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 14-15. This case is now ready for decision.

         2. Ap ...


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