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Snow v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division

January 8, 2019

JIMMY E. SNOW PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Jimmy E. Snow (“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. 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 October 9, 2015. (Tr. 17). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and post-traumatic stress disorder. (Tr. 177). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of April 17, 2015. (Tr. 17). His application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 53-79).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his denied application. (Tr. 106). This hearing request was granted, and Plaintiff's hearing was held on September 19, 2016 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. (Tr. 31-52). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Greg Goodell. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Jim Spraggins testified at this hearing. Id.

         On November 4, 2016, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's disability application. (Tr. 14-30). The ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2020. (Tr. 19, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since April 17, 2015, his alleged onset date. (Tr. 19, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood; and unspecified anxiety disorder. (Tr. 19, Finding 3). The ALJ also determined that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that 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. 19-20, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 20-25, Finding 5). First, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff' subjective complaints and found they were not entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following RFC:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations: Work is limited to simple, routine, and repetitive tasks, involving only simple, work-related decisions, with few, if any, workplace changes, and no more than incidental contact with coworkers, supervisors, and the general public.

Id.

         The ALJ determined Plaintiff was fifty (50) years old, which is defined as “an individual closely approaching advanced age” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(d) (2008), on his alleged disability onset date. (Tr. 25, Finding 7). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had at least a high school education and was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 25, Finding 8).

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and determined Plaintiff was unable to perform any of his PRW. (Tr. 25, Finding 6). The ALJ also considered whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 25-26, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id. Based upon that testimony, the ALJ found Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform work as a cook's helper (medium, unskilled) with 275, 000 such jobs in the nation and 2, 400 such jobs in Arkansas; price marker (light, unskilled) with 496, 000 such jobs in the nation and 4, 300 such jobs in Arkansas; and small product assembler (sedentary, unskilled) with 203, 000 such jobs in the nation and 4, 000 such jobs in Arkansas. (Tr. 26). Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability as defined by the Act from April 17, 2015 (alleged onset date) through November 9, 2016 (ALJ's decision date). (Tr. 26, Finding 11).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. On September 21, 2017, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-3). On October 19, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this case. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs and have consented to the jurisdiction of this Court. ECF Nos. 5, 15-16. This case is now ready for determination.

         2. Ap ...


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