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Orr v. Berryhill

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

December 18, 2018

JOHN T. ORR PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         John T. Orr (“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 applications for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”), Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), and a period of disability under Titles II and XVI 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 applications on July 31, 2014 (DIB) and on April 30, 2015 (SSI). (Tr. 58). In his applications, Plaintiff alleges he was disabled due to hypertension, COPD, “kryptocacus, ” arthritis, a “cut tendon in pinky, ” and “pain from screws in ankle.” (Tr. 249). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of July 31, 2014. (Tr. 58). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 121-139).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his denied applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 80-120, 148-149). Plaintiff's first administrative hearing was held on February 8, 2016, and Plaintiff's second administrative hearing was held on October 11, 2016. (Tr. 80-120). Plaintiff's second administrative hearing was held in Little Rock, Arkansas. (Tr. 108-120). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Stanley Brummal. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Cola Brown testified at the hearing in this matter. Id.

         On December 15, 2016, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision on Plaintiff's disability applications. (Tr. 55-79). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through June 30, 2010. (Tr. 61, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since his alleged onset date. (Tr. 61, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, obesity, remote right ankle fracture, anxiety, and borderline intellectual functioning. (Tr. 61, Finding 3). Despite being severe, the ALJ 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. 61-65, Finding 4).

         The ALJ determined Plaintiff had a limited education but was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 72, Finding 8). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff was forty-four (44) years old, which is defined as a “younger individual” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (DIB) and under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c) (SSI). (Tr. 72, Finding 7).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 65-72, Finding 5). Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff retained the following RFC:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) except he can no more than occasionally climb ramps and stairs but never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. The claimant can not more than frequently crawl and no more than occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, and crouch. He can no more than frequently reach, handle, and finger with his bilateral upper extremities and can no more than frequently operate foot controls with his bilateral low extremities. The work must not expose the claimant to concentrated fumes, odors, or gases. The work must be limited to simple, routine, repetitive jobs under supervision with simple, direct, and concrete direction, SVP 1 or 2 jobs that can be learned within thirty days training. Additionally, the claimant can only perform jobs that do not require contact with the general public.

Id.

         The ALJ determined Plaintiff was unable to perform any of his Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 72, Finding 6). The ALJ, however, found Plaintiff did retain the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 73). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. (Tr. 73). Specifically, the VE testified Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform work as a circuit board assembler (sedentary, unskilled work) with 10, 000 such jobs in the nation and as a toy stuffer (sedentary, unskilled work) with 25, 000 such jobs in the nation. Id. Based upon these findings, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined in the Act, from July 31, 2014 through the date of his decision or through December 20, 2016. (Tr. 74, Finding 11).

         Plaintiff requested that the Appeals Council's review the ALJ's unfavorable disability determination. (Tr.1-3). On October 11, 2017, the Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's disability determination. Id. On December 7, 2017, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on December 8, 2017. ECF No. 5. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 12-13. This case is now ready for decision.

         2. Ap ...


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