United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division
ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER
Johnson (“Johnson”) applied for social security
disability benefits on September 9, 2009, with an alleged
disability onset date of January 10, 2007. (R. at 283). His
disabling impairments related to back problems and headaches.
(R. at 341).
5, 2011, after an administrative hearing, the administrative
law judge (“ALJ”) denied his applications. (R. at
126). On October 20, 2011, the Appeals Council remanded the
case because the ALJ had failed to assign weight to the
opinion of a treating source and because it was unclear
whether the job of fast food worker qualified as past
relevant work. (R. at 132-33).
administrative hearing was conducted, and, on June 26, 2012,
Johnson's applications were again denied. (R. at 148). On
March 1, 2013, the Appeals Council again remanded the
ALJ's decision because he failed to properly consider a
treating source opinion and failed to evaluate and enter into
the record a medical source statement from a consultative
examiner. (R. at 155-56).
22, 2014, after conducting a third administrative hearing, an
ALJ denied Johnson's applications for benefits. (R. at
24). The Appeals Council affirmed the ALJ's decision. (R.
March 10, 2014, Johnson filed a Complaint seeking judicial
review. (R. at 723). On March 13, 2015, the Court entered its
decision reversing and remanding the Commission's
decision because the ALJ failed to resolve a conflict between
the vocational expert's (“VE”) testimony and
the Dictionary of Occupational Titles
(“DOT”). (R. at 732-38).
December 3, 2015, an ALJ conducted a fourth administrative
hearing. (R. at 664-693). During the hearing, Johnson
testified that, on April 1, 2013, he returned to full-time
work with the City of Blytheville performing trash pickup, as
well as landscaping maintenance, which included operating a
weed-eater and a zero-turn mower. (R. at 667-68). Based on
this change in his employment status, Johnson requested a
closed period of disability from his original alleged onset
of disability date of January 10, 2007, through March 31,
2013. (R. at 666-69).
December 24, 2015, the ALJ entered his decision denying
benefits because Johnson was not disabled during the closed
period of disability. (R. at 598). On February 6, 2017, the
Appeals Council declined Johnson's request for review,
making the ALJ's decision final. (R. at 577). Johnson has
appealed the Commission's decision to this Court. (Doc.
reasons stated below, this Court affirms the ALJ's
The Commissioner's Decision
found that Johnson had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity between January 10, 2007 and March 31, 2013, the
alleged closed period of disability. (R. at 589). Based on
Johnson's severe impairments of degenerative disk
disease, shoulder pain, and osteoarthritis of the hips, the
ALJ determined that Johnson had the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work, except
that he could occasionally climb stairs, stoop, crouch, bend,
kneel, and balance; frequently reach overhead bilaterally;
not climb ropes, ladders, and scaffolding; and perform work
that is simple, routine, and repetitive with supervision that
is simple, direct, and concrete. (R. at 590). During the
alleged closed period of disability, the ALJ concluded that
Johnson's RFC precluded him from performing his past
relevant work as a groundskeeper (medium), trash collector
(very heavy), oil changer (medium), tire repairer/changer
(heavy), grinder (medium but possibly performed at the light
level), equipment cleaner (medium), and clean up worker
(medium). (R. at 590).
five, the ALJ heard testimony from a VE, who testified that a
hypothetical person of Johnson's age, with the same work
experience and RFC, could perform jobs available in the
national economy, which included work as ticketer/tagger or
small parts packer. (R. at 597). Thus, the ALJ held that
Johnson was not disabled during the alleged closed period of
disability between January 10, 2007 and March 31, 2013. (R.
argues that the ALJ did not adequately explain the weight
given to portions of consultative examiners' opinions
rendered by Raymond Valdes, M.D., and Dana Kinney, M.D., both
of whom were doctors of internal medicine. He also argues
that the ALJ did not resolve inconsistencies between their
medical opinions and the RFC. These arguments fail for the
reasons explained below.
to Johnson, the ALJ did not adequately discuss why he did not
credit the portion of Dr. Valdes's opinion, dated
November 18, 2009, in which he opined that Johnson had
moderate limitations on prolonged walking. (R. at 522). He
also argues the ALJ failed to properly explain why he
discredited the portion of Dr. Kinney's opinion, dated
October 5, 2012, in which ...