United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Nicholas Hebert, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), seeking judicial review of a decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(Commissioner) denying his claims for a period of disability
and disability insurance benefits (DIB) under the provisions
of Title II of the Social Security Act (Act). In this
judicial review, the Court must determine whether there is
substantial evidence in the administrative record to support
the Commissioner's decision. See 42 U.S.C.
protectively filed his current application for DIB on
December 11, 2016, alleging an inability to work since August
6, 2015, due to anxiety, depression and a personality
disorder. (Tr. 112, 126). On November 28, 2017, Plaintiff
voluntarily waived, in writing, the right to personally
appear and testify at an administrative hearing. (Tr. 21,
written decision dated June 7, 2018, the ALJ found that
during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an impairment
or combination of impairments that were severe. (Tr. 23).
Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the following
severe impairments: a depressive disorder and an anxiety
disorder. However, after reviewing all of the evidence
presented, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff's
impairments did not meet or equal the level of severity of
any impairment listed in the Listing of Impairments found in
Appendix I, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4. (Tr. 23). The ALJ
found Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity
perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but
with the following nonexertional limitations: he can perform
work where interpersonal contact is only incidental to the
work performed and where the complexity of tasks is learned
and performed by rote with few variables and little judgment.
The required supervision is simple, direct and concrete.
(Tr. 25). With the help of a vocational expert, the ALJ
determined Plaintiff could perform work as a price marker, a
canning machine tender and a bottling line attendant. (Tr.
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which after reviewing additional evidence
submitted by Plaintiff, denied that request on November 5,
2018. (Tr. 1-7). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action.
(Doc. 1). Both parties have filed appeal briefs, and the case
is before the undersigned for report and recommendation.
(Docs. 11, 13).
Court has reviewed the entire transcript. The complete set of
facts and arguments are presented in the parties' briefs,
and are repeated here only to the extent necessary.
Court reviews “the ALJ's decision to deny
disability insurance benefits de novo on the record to ensure
that there was no legal error and that the findings of fact
are supported by substantial evidence on the record as a
whole.” Combs v. Berryhill, 878 F.3d 642,
645-46 (8th Cir. 2017). “Substantial evidence is less
than a preponderance, but enough that a reasonable mind would
find it adequate to support a conclusion.” Id.
The Court considers “the record as a whole, reviewing
both the evidence that supports the ALJ's decision and
the evidence that detracts from it.” Id. The
Court will not reverse an administrative decision simply
because some evidence may support the opposite conclusion.
Perkins v. Astrue, 648 F.3d 892, 897 (8th Cir.
2011). If, after reviewing the record, the Court finds it
possible to draw two inconsistent positions from the evidence
and one of those positions represents the ALJ's findings,
the Court must affirm the ALJ's decision. Id.
well established that a claimant for Social Security
disability benefits has the burden of proving his disability
by establishing a physical or mental disability that has
lasted at least one year and that prevents him from engaging
in any substantial gainful activity. Pearsall v.
Massanari, 274 F.3d 1211, 1217 (8th Cir.2001); see
also 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). The Act defines
“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). A Plaintiff
must show that his disability, not simply his impairment, has
lasted for at least twelve consecutive months.
Commissioner's regulations require him to apply a
five-step sequential evaluation process to each claim for
disability benefits: (1) whether the claimant has engaged in
substantial gainful activity since filing his claim; (2)
whether the claimant has a severe physical and/or mental
impairment or combination of impairments; (3) whether the
impairment(s) meet or equal an impairment in the listings;
(4) whether the impairment(s) prevent the claimant from doing
past relevant work; and, (5) whether the claimant is able to
perform other work in the national economy given his age,
education, and experience. See 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520. Only if the final stage is reached does the fact
finder consider the Plaintiff's age, education, and work
experience in light of his residual functional capacity.
See McCoy v. Schweiker, 683 F.2d 1138, 1141-42 (8th
Cir. 1982), abrogated on other grounds by Higgins v.
Apfel, 222 F.3d 504, 505 (8th Cir. 2000); 20 C.F.R.