United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Tucker (“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 a period of
disability, Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”), and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI of the Act.
to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and (3)
(2009), the Honorable Susan O. Hickey referred this case to
this Court for the purpose of making a report and
recommendation. In accordance with that referral, and after
reviewing the arguments in this case, this Court recommends
Plaintiff's case be REVERSED AND
protectively filed his disability applications on February
25, 2016. (Tr. 10). In his applications, Plaintiff alleges
being disabled due to back problems, high blood pressure, and
a “blurry left eye.” (Tr. 245). Plaintiff alleges
an onset date of January 10, 2015. (Tr. 10). These
applications were denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 71-122). Thereafter, Plaintiff
requested an administrative hearing, and this hearing request
was granted. (Tr. 29-70, 139-140). Plaintiff's
administrative hearing was held on December 6, 2017 in
Texarkana, Arkansas. (Tr. 29-70). After this hearing,
Plaintiff was present and was represented by Randolph Baltz.
Id. Plaintiff and a Vocational Expert
(“VE”) testified at this hearing. Id.
February 15, 2018, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff's disability applications. (Tr. 7-18).
In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured
status requirements of the Act through June 30, 2016. (Tr.
12, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged
in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since
January 10, 2015, his alleged onset date. (Tr. 12, Finding
2). The ALJ found Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: moderate spondylosis cervical spine, minimal
degenerative changes, mild degenerative disc disease of the
lumbar spine, 20/200 vision in right eye, and amblyopia. (Tr.
12-13, 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. 13, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (Tr. 13-16, 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 the following:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform medium work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(c) and 416.967(c) except with no objects coming
at the claimant from the right side.
Id. The ALJ determined Plaintiff was fifty-six (56)
years old, which is defined as a “person of advanced
age” under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(e) (2008) and 20
C.F.R. § 404.1563(e) (2008). (Tr. 17, Finding 7). As for
his education, Plaintiff testified he had a limited education
and was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 17, Finding 8).
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 17, Finding 6). Based upon his work
experience and his RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff did not
retain the capacity to perform his PRW. Id. The ALJ
also considered whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to
perform other work existing in significant numbers in the
national economy, considering his age, education, work
experience, and RFC. (Tr. 17-18, Finding 10). The VE
testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue.
Id. Considering this testimony, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform representative
occupations such as linen room attendant (11, 000 such jobs
nationally); dry cleaner helper (15, 000 such jobs
nationally); and laundry worker (15, 000 such jobs
nationally). Id. 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, from January 10, 2015 through the date of his decision
or through February 15, 2018. (Tr. 18, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's decision. On August 14, 2018, the Appeals Council
denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-3). On September 24,
2018, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both
Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 11-12. This case
is now ready for decision.
reviewing this case, this Court is required to determine
whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by
substantial evidence on the record as a whole. See
42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2010); Ramirez v. Barnhart,
292 F.3d 576, 583 (8th Cir. 2002). Substantial evidence is
less than a preponderance of the evidence, but it is enough
that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the
Commissioner's decision. See Johnson v. Apfel,
240 F.3d 1145, 1147 (8th Cir. 2001). As long as there is
substantial evidence in the record that supports the
Commissioner's decision, the Court may not reverse it
simply because substantial evidence exists in the record that
would have supported a contrary outcome or because the Court
would have decided the case differently. See Haley v.
Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747 (8th Cir. 2001). If, after
reviewing the record, it is possible to draw two inconsistent
positions from the evidence and one of those positions
represents the findings of the ALJ, the decision of the ALJ
must be affirmed. See Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065,
1068 (8th Cir. 2000).
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. §§