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Winkle v. Social Security Administration Commissioner

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

July 23, 2019

SCOTT VAN WINKLE PLAINTIFF
v.
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION COMMISSIONER DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Scott Van Winkle (“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”), Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), and a period of disability under Titles II and 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. 5. 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 applications on August 10, 2015 (DIB) and on September 17, 2015 (SSI). (Tr. 15). In his applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to a back injury. (Tr. 212). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of May 1, 2014. (Tr. 15). His applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 62-130).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his denied applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 38-61). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on October 2, 2017 in Shreveport, Louisiana. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Stanley Brummel. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Lenora Matuk testified at this hearing. Id.

         On January 10, 2018, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's disability applications. (Tr. 12-30). The ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2018. (Tr. 17, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since May 1, 2014, his alleged onset date. (Tr. 18, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease and brachial neuritis/radiculitis. (Tr. 18-19, Finding 3). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that 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. 19, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 19-24, Finding 5). First, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff' subjective complaints and found they were not entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following RFC:

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 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except he can only occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl, and climb. The claimant can also only occasionally reach overhead with the left upper extremity.

Id.

         The ALJ determined Plaintiff was forty-nine (49) years old, which is defined as a “individual closely approaching advanced age” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(d) (2008) and 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(d) (2008), on his alleged disability onset date. (Tr. 24, Finding 7). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had at least a high school education and was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 24, Finding 8).

         The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and found Plaintiff was unable to perform any of his PRW. (Tr. 24, Finding 6). The ALJ then considered whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 24-25, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id. Based upon that testimony, the ALJ found Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform work as a price marker (light, unskilled) with approximately 304, 746 such jobs in the nation; cashier II (light, unskilled) with approximately 857, 704 such jobs in the nation; and hotel housekeeper (light, unskilled) with approximately 134, 381 such jobs in the nation. Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from May 1, 2014 through the date of the ALJ's decision or through January 10, 2018. (Tr. 25, Finding 11).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. On July 9, 2018, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 5-7). On August 27, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this case. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs and have consented to the jurisdiction of this Court. ECF Nos. 5, 15-16.

         2. Ap ...


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