United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
STEVEN T. MITCHELL PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
T. Mitchell, (“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
Income Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security
Income (“SSI”) under Title 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. 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 application for DIB on August 5, 2015
and for SSI on August 20, 2015. (Tr. 148). In these
applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to
depression, anxiety, hypertension, migraine headaches, gastro
esophageal reflux, insomnia, asplenic, leukocytosis, torn
rotator cuff right shoulder, severe back spasms, compromised
immune system, and removed spleen and part of pancreas. (Tr.
481). These applications were denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 148). Thereafter, Plaintiff requested
an administrative hearing, and that hearing request was
granted. (Tr. 361-363).
administrative hearing was held on March 21, 2017. (Tr.
190-227). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was
represented by counsel, Terry Diggs. Id. Plaintiff,
his mother Martha Mitchell, and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Wilfred Roux testified at the hearing.
Id. At the time of the hearing, Plaintiff was
fifty-three (53) years old and had a high school education
with two years of college. (Tr. 482).
the hearings, on July 26, 2017, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications for
DIB and SSI. (Tr. 148-157). In this decision, the ALJ found
the Plaintiff had last met the insured status requirements of
the Act through March 30, 2016. (Tr. 151, Finding 1). The ALJ
also found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful
Activity (“SGA”) since his onset date of December
31, 2010. (Tr. 151, Finding 2).
determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder,
borderline personality disorder, migraines, asplenia, and
degenerative joint disease. (Tr. 151, 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. 151, Finding
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 152-155, 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 is
limited to performing simple, routine, and repetitive tasks;
making simple work-related decisions; and limited to work
where interpersonal contact is incidental to the work
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 155, Finding 6). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff was not capable of performing any of his PRW.
Id. The ALJ, however, also determined there was
other work existing in significant numbers in the national
economy Plaintiff could perform. (Tr. 156, 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 office helper with approximately 71, 760
such jobs in the nation, router dispatcher with approximately
17, 340 such jobs in the nation, and dry cleaner with
approximately 199, 330 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 December
31, 2010 through the date of the decision. (Tr. 157, Finding
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's decision. (Tr. 434-435). The Appeals Council denied
this request for review. (Tr. 1-7). On July 16, 2018,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties
have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 15, 16. 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. ...