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Wilchie v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

March 4, 2019

GERALD WILCHIE PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Gerald Wilchie (“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. 8. 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 July 8, 2015. (Tr. 15). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to osteoarthritis, diabetes, gout, neuropathy, stomach ulcers, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, and asthma. (Tr. 249). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of May 1, 2015. (Tr. 15). His disability applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 60-130).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his denied applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 36-59). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on January 23, 2017 in Little Rock, Arkansas. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Jennifer Whittle. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Myrtle Johnson testified at this hearing. Id.

         On April 28, 2017, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's disability applications. (Tr. 17-28). The ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2019. (Tr. 17, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: diabetes mellitus, ischemic heart disease, degenerative disc disease, coronary artery disease, hypertension, gastroparesis, anxiety, and depression. (Tr. 17-18, Finding 3). The ALJ also determined 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. 18-19, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 19-26, 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 light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except the claimant could perform no work requiring frequent balancing, climbing or hazards. He would require a cane in his dominant upper extremity to ambulate away from the workstation. The claimant is able to perform work where interpersonal contact is incidental to the work performed, incidental is defined as interpersonal contact requiring a limited degree of interaction such as meeting and greeting the public, answering simple questions, accepting payment and making change; complexity of tasks can be learned by demonstration or repetition with 30 days, few variables, little judgment; supervision required is simple, direct and concrete.

Id.

         The ALJ determined Plaintiff was forty-seven (47) years old, which is defined as a “younger individual” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (2008) and 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c) (2008), on his alleged disability onset date. (Tr. 26, Finding 7). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had at least a high school education and was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 26, Finding 8).

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and found Plaintiff was unable to perform any of his PRW. (Tr. 26, Finding 6). The ALJ also considered whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 27, 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 garment bagger with 117, 000 such jobs in the nation economy and price tagger with 285, 000 such jobs in the national economy. Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from May 1, 2015 through the date of his decision or through April 28, 2017. (Tr. 27, Finding 11).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. On March 3, 2018, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-6). On May 9, 2018, 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. 8, 15-16.

         2. Ap ...


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