United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Arthur Seiler (“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.
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. 9. Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
protectively filed his disability application on February 18,
2013. (Tr. 191). In his application, Plaintiff alleges he is
disabled due to optic nerve problems and black spots; high
blood pressure; heart issues; diabetes; severe pain his neck,
arms, shoulders, and back; an enlarged heart; cysts on his
kidneys; severe depression; hearing problems, loss of
mobility; and neuropathy. (Tr. 463). Plaintiff alleges an
onset date of June 1, 2007. (Tr. 191). This application was
denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr.
requested an administrative hearing on his denied
application. Ultimately, Plaintiff had three administrative
hearings, one on November 4, 2014 (Tr. 104-142), one on
August 26, 2016 (Tr. 34-80), and one on March 9, 2017 (Tr.
81-103). Based upon the testimony taken at this hearing, the
ALJ entered three unfavorable decisions. (Tr. 14-26, 188-208,
214-233). Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the review of the
Appeals Council, and the Appeals Council granted
Plaintiff’s request for review. (Tr. 1-10). Plaintiff
is now appealing the Appeals Council’s decision, and
this is the current decision before the Court. ECF No. 1.
Appeals Council entered its decision on August 25, 2017. (Tr.
1-10). In this decision, the Appeals Council found Plaintiff
met the special earnings requirements of the Act on June 1,
2007 and continued to meet them through December 31, 2012.
(Tr. 6, Finding 1). The Appeals Council found Plaintiff had
not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since June 1, 2007. (Tr. 6, Finding 2).
Appeals Council found Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: chronic kidney disease, hypertension, diabetes
mellitus, degenerative disc disease, obesity, and bilateral
hearing loss. (Tr. 6, Finding 3). Despite being severe, the
Appeals Council 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. 6, Finding 3).
decision, the Appeals Council evaluated Plaintiff’s
subjective complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 7, Finding
4). Specifically, the Appeals Council found Plaintiff was
“limited to light work” except Plaintiff
“could not discern sounds softer than conversation
level.” (Tr. 7, Finding 4).
Appeals Council found Plaintiff was unable to perform his
Past Relevant Work (“PRW”).
Finding 6). The Appeals Council, however, found Plaintiff
retained the capacity to perform a significant number of jobs
existing in the national economy. (Tr. 7, Finding 8). The
Appeals Council based that determination upon the testimony
of the Vocational Expert (“VE”) at the hearing on
August 26, 2016, which supports a finding that he retains the
capacity to work as a semi-conductor tester with 454,000 such
jobs in the national economy (light, semi-skilled). (Tr. 6).
Based upon these findings, the Appeals Council found
Plaintiff was not disabled, as defined by the Act, at any
time through December 31, 2012 (his date last insured). (Tr.
7, Finding 9).
October 18, 2017, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No.
1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on
November 15, 2017. ECF No. 9. Both Parties have filed appeal
briefs. ECF Nos. 17-18. This case is now ready for decision.
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 support the
Commissioner’s decision. See Johnson v. Apfel,240 F.3d 1145, 1147 (8th Cir. 2001). As long as there is
substantial evidence in the record that supports the
Commissioner’s decision, the Court may not reverse it
simply because substantial evidence exists in the record that
would have supported a contrary outcome or because the Court
would have decided the case differently. See Haley v.
Massanari,258 F.3d 742, 747 (8th Cir. 2001). If, after
reviewing the record, it is possible ...