United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Edward Hicks, (“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
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 SSI on June 13, 2016.
(Tr. 16). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due to Asperger's Syndrome and dermatitis. (Tr.
170). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of June 9, 2004.
Id. His application was denied initially and again
upon reconsideration. (Tr. 16).
requested an administrative hearing on his denied
application. (Tr. 98-102). This hearing request was granted
and Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on May
23, 2018. (Tr. 28-57). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present
and was represented by counsel, Greg Giles. Id.
Plaintiff, his mother Pam Peters, and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Wilfred Roux testified at the hearing.
Id. At the time of the hearing, Plaintiff was twenty
(20) years old and had graduated high school. (Tr. 33-34).
the hearing on August 1, 2018, the ALJ entered an unfavorable
decision denying Plaintiff's application for SSI. (Tr.
16-23). In this decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had
not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since June 13, 2016. (Tr. 18, Finding 1).
The ALJ also found Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: obesity and Asperger's Syndrome. (Tr. 18,
Finding 2). 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.
18, Finding 3).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 19-22, 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 RFC to perform sedentary work, except
limited to work that required only occasional lifting or
carrying of ten pounds; frequent lifting or carrying of less
than ten pounds; pushing and pulling as much as lifting or
carrying; sitting six hours in an eight hour workday;
standing and walking two hours in an eight hour workday;
occasionally climb ramps and stair, balance, stoop, kneel,
crouch, and crawl; never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds;
avoid concentrated exposure to hazards including unprotected
heights and dangerous machinery, humidity, wetness,
concentrated exposure to dust, odors, fume and pulmonary
irritants, and concentrated exposure to extreme cold; and
limited to work involving only simple, routine, and
repetitive tasks, requiring simple work-related decisions and
only interpersonal contact that was incidental to the work.
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 22, Finding 5). 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.
22, Finding 9). 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 with approximately 217, 500 such jobs in the
nation, surveillance system monitor with approximately 113,
200 such jobs in the nation, and address clerk with
approximately 81, 300 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, since June
13, 2016. (Tr. 23, Finding 10).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's decision. (12). The Appeals Council denied this
request for review. (Tr. 1-6). On February 8, 2019, Plaintiff
filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed
appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 13, 15. This case is now ready for
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. §§
404.1520(a)-(f). The fact finder only considers the
plaintiff's age, education, and work experience in light
of his or her RFC if the final stage of this analysis is
reached. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520,