United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
WESLEY J. HAM PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
J. Ham, (“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”) and Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI
of the Act.
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. 4. 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
December 1, 2015. (Tr. 16). In these applications, Plaintiff
alleges being disabled due to due to back problems and nerve
damage in legs, feet and hips. (Tr. 250). These applications
were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr.
16). Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative
hearing, and that hearing request was granted. (Tr. 147-148).
administrative hearing was held on May 24, 2017. (Tr. 40-71).
At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by
counsel, John Howard. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational
Expert (“VE”) Alissa Smith testified at the
hearing. Id. At the time of the hearing, Plaintiff
was forty-six (46) years old and had a high school education.
the hearing, on September 7, 2017, the ALJ entered an
partially favorable decision denying Plaintiff's
application for DIB. (Tr. 16-23). The decision was fully
favorable with respect to the Title XVI application.
decision, the ALJ determined the Plaintiff met the insured
status requirements of the Act through June 30, 2011. (Tr.
19, Finding 1). The ALJ also found Plaintiff had not engaged
in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since the
alleged onset date of August 1, 2010. (Tr. 19, Finding 2).
determined that as of June 30, 2011, the date last insured,
the evidence did not establish the existence of an impairment
that was severe for purposes of step two that lasted a
duration of twelve months. (Tr. 19, Finding 3). The ALJ
found, beginning on December 1, 2015, Plaintiff had the
following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease,
osteoarthritis, and diabetes mellitus with neuropathy. (Tr.
21, Finding 4). Despite being severe, the ALJ determined that
since December 1, 2015, 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. 21, Finding 5).
determined that since December 1, 2015, Plaintiff retained
the RFC to perform sedentary work, except due to chronic
disabling pain, is unable to complete a regular eight-hour
workday or a regular 40-hour work week. (Tr. 21, Finding 6).
The ALJ also determined that since December 1, 2015,
Plaintiff was not capable of performing any of his past
relevant work. (Tr. 22, finding 7). The ALJ then determined
that since December 1, 2015, there was no other work existing
in significant numbers in the national economy Plaintiff
could perform. (Tr. 22, Finding 11). Based upon these
findings, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a
disability, as defined in the Act, before December 1, 2015,
but became disabled on that date. (Tr. 23, Finding 12).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's decision. (Tr. 205-207). The Appeals Council denied
this request for review. (Tr. 1-6). On July 18, 2018,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties
have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 11, 12. 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. ...