United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
HONORABLE MARK E. FORD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Randy Sean Barnes, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), seeking judicial review of a decision of the
commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“Commissioner”) denying his application for
supplemental security income (SSI) under Title XVI of the
Social Security Act (“the Act”), 42 U.S.C. §
1383(c)(3). In this judicial review, the Court must determine
whether there is substantial evidence in the administrative
record to support the Commissioner's decision.
See U.S.C. § 405(g).
filed his application for SSI on February 23, 2016, alleging
disability since December 1, 2014, due to diabetes, nerve
pain in legs, and loss of hearing. (ECF No. 11, pp. 20,
154-160, 196, 286).
application was denied initially and upon reconsideration.
(ECF No. 11, pp. 20, 89, 96). An administrative hearing was
held on February 14, 2017, before the Hon. Edward M. Starr.
(ECF No. 11, pp. 20, 46-67). Plaintiff and a vocational
expert (“VE”), Dr. Larry L. Seifert, testified.
(ECF No. 11, p. 46). Plaintiff was represented by counsel,
Michael J. Hamby. (ECF No. 11, p. 46).
written decision dated May 25, 2017, the ALJ found Plaintiff
had the following severe impairments: type I diabetes
mellitus with peripheral neuropathy. (ECF No. 11, p. 22). The
ALJ next determined that Plaintiff does not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that meets or
medically equals the severity of any impairment in the
Listing of Impairments. (ECF No. 11, p. 23). After
discounting Plaintiff's credibility, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform sedentary work as defined in
20 C.F.R. § 416.967(a), except that he can frequently
reach, finger, and handle bilaterally, and he can frequently
climb, balance, crawl, kneel, stoop, and crouch. (ECF No. 11,
found that Plaintiff had no past relevant work
(“PRW”), but with the assistance of a vocational
expert, the ALJ determined Plaintiff could perform the
requirements of the representative occupations of: printed
circuit board checker (DOT # 726.684-110), with 6, 638 jobs
in the national economy; ordinance checker (DOT #
737.687-026), with 13, 176 jobs in the national economy; and,
order clerk (DOT # 209.567-014) with 21, 767 jobs in the
national economy. (ECF No. 11, p. 28). The ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff had not been under a disability as defined by the
Act during the relevant period. (ECF No. 11, p. 28).
December 19, 2017, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review. (ECF No. 11, pp. 5-7). Plaintiff
subsequently filed this action on January 16, 2018. (ECF No.
1). This matter is before the undersigned for report and
recommendation. Both parties have filed appeal briefs (ECF
Nos. 14, 15), and the case is ready for decision.
undersigned has conducted a thorough review of the entire
record in this case. The complete sets of facts and arguments
are presented in the parties' briefs and are repeated
here only to the extent necessary.
November 14, 2011, Plaintiff was seen for a consultative exam
by Patricia J. Walz, Ph.D. in connection with a previous
disability application. (ECF No. 11, pp. 253-257). She
observed that he was on time and wearing glasses, but he had
no hearing aids. She described him as a heavy-set man, with
poor dentition, who wore jeans a wrinkled shirt, and his
fingernails were dirty. (ECF No. 11, p. 253). He reported
recent problems with listening and understanding
communications and loss of memory. Id. He reported
that “[i]t seems like it is worse, but it is not real
bad, and I've always had ADHD.” Id. He
reported no mental health problems, either currently or in
the past. He did not have any idea what might be causing his
memory problems; and, while he thought his memory was fine,
every time somebody told him something he didn't
remember. Id. He reported no psychiatric
hospitalization nor participation in counseling or
psychotherapy. Id. He reported that he had never
taken antidepressants, but that he had taken Ritalin for
about a month when he was younger, but it didn't help.
Id. He reported that he quit halfway through the
first semester of 10th grade and had special classes in both
English and Science. (ECF No. 11, p. 254). He reported a
belief that he had repeated the first grade and may have had
speech therapy for a slight speech impediment. Id.
He reported that he had worked in fast food and a tire store
in the past, and occasionally helped his mom clean houses,
and he was looking for a job. Id. He reported that
he had never been fired and had gotten along with his
coworkers and bosses. Id. Dr. Walz performed mental
status tests and opined that Plaintiff's intellectual
functioning was thought to be in the 75-85 range. (ECF No.
11, pp. 255-256). Dr. Walz's diagnoses were: attention
deficit disorder by history; history of marijuana and alcohol
abuse with continued use of alcohol and report of remission
of marijuana; and, rule out borderline intellectual
functioning. (ECF No. 11, p. 256). Dr. Walz recommended
intellectual and achievement testing. Id.
March 7, 2016, Plaintiff had a two-month follow-up
appointment with Dr. Suh Niba. (ECF No. 11, pp. 303-306). Dr.
Niba noted Plaintiff's prognosis was “good, ”
with the expected outcome of “improve, ” and that
his diabetes, while usually poorly controlled, had improved
since his last visit. (ECF No. 11, pp. 305). Dr. Niba also
noted that his home blood sugar range was high. Id.
He listed diabetic neuropathy as an associated symptom, and
that Plaintiff reported numbness in both of his hands, feet,
and legs. Id. Dr. Niba increased Plaintiff's
dose of Gabapentin and recommended diet, exercise, avoiding
other-the-counter NSAIDS, and weight control. Id.
7, 2016, Plaintiff returned to see Dr. Niba. (ECF No. 11, pp.
298-300). Dr. Niba again gave Plaintiff a prognosis of
“good, ” with the expected outcome of
“improve, ” and it was noted that Plaintiff's
diabetes, while usually poorly controlled, had improved since
his last visit. (ECF No. 11, pp. 294). Diabetic neuropathy
was listed as an associated symptom, and Plaintiff reported
numbness in both of his hands, feet, and legs. Id.
Dr. Niba also noted that Plaintiff's home blood sugar
range was high. Id. Dr. Niba adjusted
Plaintiff's medication to address his high blood sugar
reading, and diet, exercise, avoiding over-the-counter
NSAIDS, and weight control were again recommended. (ECF No.
11, p. 299).
29, 2016, Dr. Niba reviewed Plaintiff's medications and
provided a treatment plan for a respiratory infection and