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Williams v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

January 16, 2019

RANDY E. WILLIAMS PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Randy E. Williams (“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 Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title 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 application on June 16, 2014. (Tr. 26). In his application, Plaintiff alleges he is disabled due to COPD, “hyperextended” lungs, and joint problems. (Tr. 206). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of November 17, 2012. (Tr. 26). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 109-138).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his denied application. (Tr. 142-145). This hearing request was granted, and Plaintiff's hearing was held on July 27, 2016 in Shreveport, Louisiana. (Tr. 59-85). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Greg Giles. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Mr. Wallace testified at this hearing. Id.

         After this hearing, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying his disability application. (Tr. 23-36). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since June 16, 2014, his application date. (Tr. 28, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: peptic ulcer disease, osteoarthritis of the knee, degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). (Tr. 28-31, Finding 2). 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. 32, Finding 3).

         The ALJ determined Plaintiff had at least a high school education and was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 35, Finding 7). The ALJ determined Plaintiff was forty-eight (48) years old, which is defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c) (2008), on the date his application was filed. (Tr. 35, Finding 6).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 32-34, Finding 4). 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 light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except can frequently, but not continuously, reach; occasionally stoop, crouch, crawl and kneel; cannot climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds; can occasionally climb stairs and ramps; is unable to balance on narrow or moving surfaces, but is able to balance occasionally on level surfaces; can tolerate occasional exposure to dust, fumes, gasses and other respiratory irritants and extremes in temperature and humidity.

Id.

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and determined Plaintiff was unable to perform any of his PRW. (Tr. 34-35, Finding 5). The ALJ also considered whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 35-36, Finding 9). 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 housekeeper (hotel) (light, unskilled) with approximately 138, 070 such jobs in the national economy; cashier II (light, unskilled) with approximately 823, 356 such jobs in the national economy; and cafeteria attendant (light, unskilled) with approximately 59, 640 such jobs in the national economy. Id. Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this other work, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from June 16, 2014 (application date) through November 25, 2016 (ALJ's decision date). (Tr. 36, Finding 10).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. On October 25, 2017, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 6-9). On November 15, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this matter. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs and have consented to the jurisdiction of this Court. ECF Nos. 5, 12-13. This case is now ready for determination.

         2. Ap ...


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