United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
ALAN D. STORY PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Alan Dean Story, brings this action under 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), seeking judicial review of a decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security Administration (Commissioner)
denying her claim for a period of disability, disability
insurance benefits (“DIB”), and supplemental
security income (“SSI”) benefits under Titles II
and XVI of the Social Security Act (hereinafter “the
Act”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A),
1382c(a)(3)(A). In this judicial review, the court must
determine whether there is substantial evidence in the
administrative record to support the Commissioner's
decision. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
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.
protectively filed his applications for DIB and SSI on August
7, 2015. (Tr. 11). In this application, Plaintiff alleges
being disabled due to: bulging disc, type 2 diabetes, high
cholesterol, high blood pressure, severe stenosis of the
back, and a herniated disc with an alleged onset date of
August 9, 2010. (Tr. 11, 237). This application was denied
initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 11). Plaintiff
requested an administrative hearing and that administrative
hearing was held on March 20, 2017. (Tr. 29-60). At this
hearing, Plaintiff was present and represented himself. (Tr.
11, 30-65). Plaintiff, witness Theresa Higby, and a
Vocational Expert (“VE”) testified at the
hearing. Id. At the time of the hearing, Plaintiff
was fifty-five (55) years old and had an eighth-grade
education. (Tr. 34-36).
the hearing, on May 23, 2014, the ALJ entered a partially
favorable decision. (Tr. 11-21). The ALJ found Plaintiff had
last met the insured status requirements of the Act on
December 31, 2015. (Tr. 14, Finding 1). The ALJ also found
Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since his alleged onset date. (Tr. 14, Finding 2). The ALJ
determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease, history of panic disorder with
agoraphobia. (Tr. 14, Finding 3). Despite being severe, the
ALJ determined those impairments did not 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. 14-15, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 15-18, Finding 5).
First, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and found his claimed limitations were not
entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff retained the RFC to:
[P]erform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b) except the claimant also retains the ability to
perform work where interpersonal contact is incidental to the
work performed; and where the complexity of tasks is learned
and performed by rote, few variable, little judgment; and,
where supervision required is simple, direct, and concrete.
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 18, Finding 6). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff was not capable of performing any of his PRW.
Id. THE ALJ next found Plaintiff's age category
changed to an individual of advanced age on October 12, 2016.
(Tr. 18, Finding 7). The ALJ, however, also determined prior
to Plaintiff's age category change, there was other work
existing in significant numbers in the national economy
Plaintiff could perform. (Tr. 19-20, Finding 10). The ALJ
based this determination upon the testimony of the VE.
Id. Specifically, the VE testified that given all
Plaintiff's vocational factors, a hypothetical individual
would be able to perform the requirements of representative
occupations such as a warehouse checker with approximately
69, 430 such jobs in the nation, a mailroom sorter with
approximately 99, 190 such jobs in the nation, or a router
dispatcher with approximately 17, 340 such jobs in the
nation. Id. Based upon these finding, the ALJ
determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as
defined in the Act, at any time through the date last
insured, was not disabled prior to October 12, 2016, but
became disabled on that date and continued to be disabled
through the date of this decision. (Tr. 20, Findings 12, 13).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's decision. (Tr. 209-213). The Appeals Council denied
this request for review. (Tr. 1-4).
March 14, 2018, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No.
1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 14, 15.
This case is now ready for decision.
well-established that a claimant for Social Security
disability benefits has the burden of proving his or her
disability by establishing a physical or mental disability
that lasted at least one year and that prevents him or her
from engaging in any substantial gainful activity. See
Cox v. Apfel, 160 F.3d 1203, 1206 (8th Cir. 1998); 42
U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). The Act
defines a “physical or mental impairment” as
“an impairment that results from anatomical,
physiological, or psychological abnormalities which are
demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory
diagnostic techniques.” 42 U.S.C. §§
423(d)(3), 1382(3)(c). A plaintiff must show that his or her
disability, not simply his or her impairment, has lasted for
at least twelve consecutive months. See 42 U.S.C.
determine whether the adult claimant suffers from a
disability, the Commissioner uses the familiar five-step
sequential evaluation. He determines: (1) whether the
claimant is presently engaged in a “substantial gainful
activity”; (2) whether the claimant has a severe
impairment that significantly limits the claimant's
physical or mental ability to perform basic work activities;
(3) whether the claimant has an impairment that meets or
equals a presumptively disabling impairment listed in the
regulations (if so, the claimant is disabled without regard
to age, education, and work experience); (4) whether the
claimant has the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to
perform his or her past relevant work; and (5) if the
claimant cannot perform the past work, the burden shifts to
the Commissioner to prove that there are other jobs in the
national economy that the claimant can perform. See
Cox, 160 F.3d at 1206; 20 C.F.R. ...