United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
DARIN D. JONES PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
D. Jones, (“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 Supplemental
Security Income 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. 5. Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this
memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment
in this matter.
protectively filed his application for DIB and SSI on June
19, 2014. (Tr. 243-255). In these applications, Plaintiff
alleges being disabled due to respiratory conditions,
enlarged heart, and high blood pressure. (Tr. 272). These
applications were denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 37). Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an
administrative hearing, and that hearing request was granted.
administrative hearing was held on May 3, 2016. (Tr. 57-88).
At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by
counsel, Greg Giles. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational
Expert (“VE”) Dale Thomas, testified at the
hearing. Id. At the time of the hearing, Plaintiff
was forty-six (46) years old and had a high school education.
the hearing, on June 2, 2016, the ALJ entered an unfavorable
decision denying Plaintiff's applications for DIB and
SSI. (Tr. 37-48). In this decision, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act
through June 30, 2018. (Tr. 40, Finding 1). The ALJ also
determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful
Activity (“SGA”) since January 1, 2014. (Tr. 40,
found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine; chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease; obstructive sleep apnea;
congestive heart failure; diabetes; depression and anxiety.
(Tr. 40, 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. 40, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 41-42, 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 light work, with the
additional restrictions of no more than occasional balancing,
stooping, kneeling, crouching, crawling, or climbing stairs
and ramps; no climbing ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; no more
than occasional exposure to dust, gases, respiratory
irritants, or extremes of temperature or humidity; short,
simple work instructions and simple, routine work tasks with
no fast-paced high quota production work; simple work related
decisions; adapting to few if any work place changes; and no
more than occasional interaction with co-workers,
supervisors, or the general public. Id.
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 46, Finding 6). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff was not capable of performing his PRW. Id.
The ALJ, however, also determined there was other work
existing in significant numbers in the national economy
Plaintiff could perform. (Tr. 47, Finding 10). The ALJ based
this determination upon the testimony of the VE. Id.
Specifically, the VE testified that given all Plaintiff's
vocational factors, a hypothetical individual would be able
to perform the requirements of representative occupations
such as bench assembler with approximately 108, 000 such jobs
in the nation, laundry worker with approximately 306, 000
such jobs in the nation, and hand packager approximately 57,
000 such jobs in the nation. Id. Based upon this
finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a
disability, as defined in the Act, from January 1, 2014,
through the date of the decision. (Tr. 47, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's decision. (Tr. 239-242). The Appeals Council denied
this request for review. (Tr. 1-7). On August 18, 2017,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties
have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 11, 16. This case is now
ready for decision.
well-established that a claimant for Social Security
disability benefits has the burden of proving his or her
disability by establishing a physical or mental disability
that lasted at least one year and that prevents him or her
from engaging in any substantial gainful activity. See
Cox v. Apfel, 160 F.3d 1203, 1206 (8th Cir. 1998); 42
U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). The Act
defines a “physical or mental impairment” as
“an impairment that results from anatomical,
physiological, or psychological abnormalities which are
demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory
diagnostic techniques.” 42 U.S.C. §§
423(d)(3), 1382(3)(c). A plaintiff must show that his or her
disability, not simply his or her impairment, has lasted for
at least twelve consecutive months. See 42 U.S.C.
determine whether the adult claimant suffers from a
disability, the Commissioner uses the familiar five-step
sequential evaluation. He determines: (1) whether the
claimant is presently engaged in a “substantial gainful
activity”; (2) whether the claimant has a severe
impairment that significantly limits the claimant's
physical or mental ability to perform basic work activities;
(3) whether the claimant has an impairment that meets or
equals a presumptively disabling impairment listed in the
regulations (if so, the claimant is disabled without regard
to age, education, and work experience); (4) whether the
claimant has the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to
perform his or her past relevant work; and (5) if the
claimant cannot perform the past work, the burden shifts to
the Commissioner to prove that there are other jobs in the
national economy that the claimant can perform. See
Cox, 160 F.3d at 1206; 20 C.F.R. ...