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Hamilton v. Berryhill

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

February 28, 2019

NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT



         Mark Hamilton, Sr. (“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. 7.[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 November 6, 2014. (Tr. 65). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to problems with his left femur with femoral nail, being unable to stand on his leg, swelling in his left foot, and pain in his left leg “all the time.” (Tr. 293). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of July 1, 2013. (Tr. 65). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 128-189).

         After Plaintiff's applications were denied, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on these applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 102-127). Thereafter, on May 19, 2017, the SSA held an administrative hearing on Plaintiff's applications in Shreveport, Louisiana. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff was present was represented by Greg Giles. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) James Wallace testified at this hearing. Id.

         On June 15, 2017, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications. (Tr. 65-74). The ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2018. (Tr. 68, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since July 1, 2013, his alleged onset date. (Tr. 68, Finding 2).

         The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: status post left femur open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) and subsequent hardware infection and cervical spine degenerative disc disease (DDD). (Tr. 68, 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. 68-69, Finding 4).

         The ALJ determined Plaintiff had a limited education but was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 73, Finding 8). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff was forty-two (42) 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. 72-73, Finding 7).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 69-72, Finding 5). Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff retained the following RFC:

After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to lift and/or carry 10 pounds occasionally and less than 10 pounds frequently; stand and/or walk for 2 hours in an 8-hour workday and sit for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday; cannot climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds; can occasionally climb ramps and stairs; cannot crawl; can occasionally stoop and crouch; must avoid hazards such as slippery surfaces or unprotected heights and requires a cane when ambulating for balance.


         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. 73-74, Finding 10). In making this determination, the ALJ relied upon the testimony of the VE. Id. Based upon this testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform work as a document preparer (unskilled, sedentary) with approximately 23, 275 such jobs in the nation; call out operator (unskilled, sedentary) with approximately 3, 230 such jobs in the nation; telephone information clerk (unskilled, sedentary) with approximately 1, 667 such jobs in the nation; and toy stuffer (unskilled, sedentary) with approximately 1, 975 such jobs in the nation. 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 July 1, 2013 through the date of his decision or through June 15, 2017. (Tr. 74, Finding 11).

         Plaintiff requested that the Appeals Council's review the ALJ's unfavorable disability determination. On March 19, 2018, the Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's disability determination. (Tr. 1-7). On April 6, 2018, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the ...

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