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Prather v. Berryhill

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

June 28, 2018

TERRANCE LEE PRATHER PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Terrance Lee Prather (“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. 5.[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 disability application on December 18, 2014. (Tr. 10). In this application, Plaintiff alleges he was disabled due to removal of his intestines and surgery to correct his intestines. (Tr. 198). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of December 10, 2014. (Tr. 10). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 82-94).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 33-81). An administrative hearing was held on May 2, 2016 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Id. At the administrative hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Shannon Muse Carroll. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Elizabeth Clem testified at this hearing. Id. On the date of this hearing, Plaintiff testified he was forty-six (46) years old, which is defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (2008), and testified he completed eighth or ninth grade. (Tr. 39)

         On July 27, 2016, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision on Plaintiff's disability application. (Tr. 7-17). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through March 31, 2017. (Tr. 12, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since December 10, 2014, his alleged onset date. (Tr. 12, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: status post Hartmann's procedure and colostomy takedown; and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (“COPD”). (Tr. 12-13, 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. 13, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 13-16, 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 light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and is further limited to occasional stooping and bending; and no concentrated exposure to fumes, dust, odors, or extreme heat or cold due to COPD.

Id.

         The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and determined he was unable to perform any of his PRW. (Tr. 16, Finding 6). The ALJ did, however, determine Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 16-17, 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) cafeteria attendant with 1, 100 such jobs in Arkansas and 140, 000 such jobs in the United States; and (2) assembler with 2, 700 such jobs in Arkansas and 200, 000 such jobs in the United States. 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 December 10, 2014 through August 1, 2016, the ALJ's decision date. Id.

         Plaintiff requested that the Appeals Council's review the ALJ's unfavorable disability determination. (Tr.1-3). On August 7, 2017, the Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's disability determination. Id. On August 25, 2017, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on August 25, 2017. ECF No. 5. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 14-15. This case is now ready for decision.

         2. Applicable Law:

         In 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 ...


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