United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Allen Gregory, (“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 application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of 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. 10. Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this
memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment
in this matter.
protectively filed his application for DIB on October 5,
2015. (Tr. 136-137). In this application, Plaintiff alleges
being disabled due to broken heel, heart attack, arthritis,
numbness of arm, limited vision, high blood pressure, and
high cholesterol. (Tr. 149). Plaintiff alleges an onset date
of June 15, 2012. Id.. His application was denied
initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 11).
requested an administrative hearing on his denied
application. (Tr. 84-85). This hearing request was granted
and Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on
November 3, 2016. (Tr. 23-49). At this hearing, Plaintiff was
present and was represented by counsel, Michael Angel.
Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Charles Turner testified at the hearing.
Id. At the time of the hearing, Plaintiff was fifty
(50) years old and had a high school education. (Tr. 29).
the hearing, on March 1, 2017, the ALJ entered an unfavorable
decision denying Plaintiff's application for DIB. (Tr.
11-19). In this decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff met
the insured status requirements of the Act through December
31, 2017. (Tr. 13, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined
Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since January 17, 2016. (Tr. 13, Finding
found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: history
of heart attack, history of left heel fracture, and anxiety.
(Tr. 13, 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, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 15-17, 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 perform light work, except he
can occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop,
crouch, and crawl, and can perform unskilled work with only
occasional contact with supervisors, coworkers and the
general public. Id.
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 18, Finding 6). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff was unable to perform any PRW. Id. The
ALJ, however, also determined there was other work existing
in significant numbers in the national economy Plaintiff
could perform. (Tr. 18, 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 motel cleaner with approximately 350, 000 to 370, 000
such jobs in the nation and machine tender with approximately
300, 000 such jobs in the nation. Id. Based upon
this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under
a disability, as defined in the Act, from January 17, 2016
through the date of decision. (Tr. 19, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's decision. (133-135). The Appeals Council denied
this request for review. (Tr. 1-5). On June 15, 2018,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties
have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 19, 22. 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. ...