United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Grant, (“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. 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 February 17,
2016. (Tr. 16). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due to bipolar disorder, anxiety, post traumatic
stress disorder, hypertension, and chronic pain. (Tr. 353).
Plaintiff alleges an onset date of March 7, 2013. (Tr. 16).
His application was denied initially and again upon
requested an administrative hearing on his denied
application. (Tr. 264-265). This hearing request was granted
and Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on May 4,
2017. (Tr. 44-101). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present
and was represented by counsel, Shannon Muse Carroll.
Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Myrtle Johnson testified at the hearing.
Id. At the time of the hearing, Plaintiff was
forty-eight (48) years old and had a GED. (Tr. 59, 62).
the hearing, on November 7, 2017, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for
DIB. (Tr. 16-38). In this decision, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act
through March 31, 2017. (Tr. 19, Finding 1). The ALJ also
determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful
Activity (“SGA”) from March 7, 2013, through his
date last insured of September 30, 2017. (Tr. 19, Finding 2).
found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments;
degenerative disc disease/lumbar osteoarthritis,
hypertension, diabetes with idiopathic neuropathy, pulmonary
disorder, obesity, cardiac disorder, insomnia/chronic
fatigue, and anxiety. (Tr. 19, 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. 20, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 24-37, 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 sedentary work except
can occasionally climb ramps, stairs, ladders, ropes, or
scaffolds; can occasionally balance, kneel, stooping, crouch,
and crawl; must be allowed to stand for 5 minutes after
sitting for 20 minutes; and can perform simple, routine,
repetitive tasks with only incidental interpersonal contact
where supervision is simple, direct, and concrete.
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 37, Finding 6). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff had no PRW. Id. The ALJ, however, also
determined there was other work existing in significant
numbers in the national economy Plaintiff could perform. (Tr.
37-38, 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 final
assembler optical goods with approximately 235, 000 such jobs
in the nation surveillance system monitor with approximately
22, 600 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 March 7, 2013 through
March 31, 2017. (Tr. 38, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's decision. (328-331). The Appeals Council denied
this request for review. (Tr. 1-7). On August 14, 2018,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties
have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 17, 18. 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. ...