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Zimmer v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division

June 20, 2019

TERRY ZIMMER PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Terry Zimmer (“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 Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Act.

         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. 7. Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.

         1. Background:

         Plaintiff protectively filed his disability application on December 16, 2015. (Tr. 14). In his application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to an injury in his leg from an auto accident, degenerative back disease, “three screws in hip chronic pain, ” problems in both his knees, panic attacks, and anxiety. (Tr. 199). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of July 20, 2002. (Tr. 14). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. Id.

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing in this matter, and this hearing was held on November 8, 2016 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. (Tr. 34-62). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Nicholas Coleman. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Tanya Owen testified at this hearing. Id.

         After this administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision on Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 11-26). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since December 16, 2015, his application date. (Tr. 16, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease (disorders of the back-discogenic and degenerative); and injuries post auto accident. (Tr. 16-17, Finding 2). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff's 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. 17, Finding 3).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 17-20, Finding 4). 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 capacity to perform the following:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b). The claimant could lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; stand and or walk for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday with normal breaks and sit for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday, with normal breaks. Push and pull limitations pursuant to the lift/carry limitations. The claimant would be able to stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl occasionally. Foot control operations on the left would be occasional.

Id. The ALJ determined Plaintiff was thirty-six (36) years old, which is defined as a “younger individual” under 20 C.F.R. § 416.964(c), on his date last insured. (Tr. 20, Finding 6). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff had a limited education and was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 20, Finding 7).

         Considering his RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had no Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 20, Finding 5). The ALJ then determined whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 21-22, Finding 9). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id.

         Based upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the requirements of representative occupations such as the following: (1) assembler (circuit board) (sedentary, unskilled) with 34, 000 such jobs in the national economy and 200 such jobs in the region; (2) document preparer (sedentary, unskilled) with 23, 000 such jobs in the national economy and 3, 100 in the local region; and (3) driver (sedentary, unskilled) with 50, 000 such jobs in the national economy and 1, 500 such jobs in the region. (Tr. 21). Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this other work, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability (as defined by the Act) at any time from December 16, 2015 (application date) through September 25, 2017 (ALJ's decision date). (Tr. 22, Finding 10).

         Plaintiff then requested the Appeals Council's review of this unfavorable decision. On July 9, 2018, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-7). Thereafter, on September 7, 2018, Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this action. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs and have consented to the jurisdiction of this Court. ECF Nos. 7, 15-16. This case is now ready for decision.

         2.Applicable ...


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