United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Sparks, (“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”) and Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI
of the Act.
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 and SSI on May 8,
2013. (Tr. 205-216). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges
being disabled due to back pain, back cramps, leg cramps,
heart burn, and problems with three fingers on left hand.
(Tr. 230). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of May 2, 2012.
Id. His applications were denied initially and again
upon reconsideration. (Tr. 100-169).
April 17, 2015, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision after
an administrative hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). (Tr. 55-65). Following this, the Appeals
Council denied review, and the District Court remanded the
case back to the Appeals Council for further review of the
evidence. (Tr. 536-539).
remand, on March 27, 2018, a second administrative hearing
was held. (Tr. 484-506). At this hearing, Plaintiff was
present and was represented by counsel, Fred Caddell.
Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Tanya Owen testified at the hearing.
the hearing on September 7, 2018, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for
DIB and SSI. (Tr. 459-474). In this decision, the ALJ
determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of
the Act through September 30, 2017. (Tr. 461, Finding 1). The
ALJ also determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial
Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since May 2, 2012. (Tr.
461, Finding 2).
found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
fibromyalgia, coronary artery disease, hypertension, an
adjustment disorder with depressed mood, generalized anxiety
disorder, and a provisional learning disorder in arithmetic.
(Tr. 461, 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. 462, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 464-473, 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 light work with
occasional stooping and crouching, and limited to simple,
routine, repetitive tasks involving simple work-related
decisions with few, if any workplace changes, and no more
than incidental contact with co-workers, supervisors, and the
general public. Id.
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 473, 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.
473, 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
housekeeping with approximately 380, 000 such jobs in the
nation and packing line worker with approximately 200, 000
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 May 2, 2012 through the date of
the decision. (Tr. 474, Finding 11).
November 8, 2018, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No.
1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 15, 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. §§