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Robinson v. Saul

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

November 19, 2019

RAYMON ROBINSON PLAINTIFF
v.
ANDREW SAUL Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Raymon Robinson, (“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”) under Title II 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.[1] 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 application for DIB on April 13, 2016. (Tr. 262-265). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to essential thrombocytosis. (Tr. 288). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of October 5, 2015. Id. His application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 113-130).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his denied application. (Tr. 160-161). This hearing request was granted and Plaintiff's initial administrative hearing was held on May 30, 2017. (Tr. 51-80). Following this, the ALJ the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for DIB. (Tr. 131-148). On April 23, 2018, the Appeals Council granted review of the decision and remanded the case to obtain supplemental evidence. (Tr. 149-151).

         Following remand, Plaintiff had a second administrative hearing on September 5, 2018. (Tr. 81-112). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Greg Giles. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Donald Rue testified at the hearing. Id.

         Following the hearing on October 31, 2018, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for SSI. (Tr. 15-27). In this decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2020. (Tr. 17, Finding 1). The ALJ also found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since October 5, 2015. (Tr. 17, Finding 2).

         The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder, migraine headaches, and history of thrombocytosis. (Tr. 17, 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. 18, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 19-25, 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 performance of simple, routine tasks; and occasional interaction with supervisors, coworkers, and the general public. Id.

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 25, Finding 6). The ALJ determined Plaintiff was not capable of performing any of his PRW. Id. The ALJ, however, also determined there was other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy Plaintiff could perform. (Tr. 26, 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 housekeeper with approximately 137, 000 such jobs in the nation and fitting room attendant with approximately 213, 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, since October 5, 2015. (Tr. 27, Finding 11).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the ALJ's decision. (7-11). The Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-6). On February 26, 2019, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 15, 16. This case is now ready for decision.

         2. Applicable Law:

         It is 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. §§ ...


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