Nicks v. Social Security Administration
ORDER affirming the decision of the ALJ and dismissing the 2 Complaint filed by Randall Ray Nicks. Signed by Judge D. P. Marshall Jr. on 3/27/12. (kpr)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
RANDALL RAY NICKS
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE,
Commissioner of Social Security
Randall Ray Nicks had a stroke in 2005 that has had some lingering
effects. The ALJ found he has these severe impairments: hypertension, back
pain, depression secondary to his medical condition, and mild dementia.
Nicks alleges headaches, leg problems, and other ailments as well. Does
substantial evidence support the ALl's conclusion that there are some jobs out
there for Nicks?
Nicks argues three points on appeal. He contends first that the ALJ
wrongly disregarded some of his subjective complaints. Second, Nicks argues
that he cannot perform the standing and walking requirements of sedentary
work, contrary to the ALl's conclusion that he could. Finally, he argues that
the ALJ did not give proper consideration to the problems resulting from
Nicks's stroke or his residual non-exertionallimitations.
1. Subjective Complaints. The ALJ should have, Nicks contends,
included his subjective complaints in the job-availability question to the
vocational expert. Or, failing that, Nicks says the ALJ should have made
specific findings about the evidence that led him to disbelieve Nicks's
testimony. But the ALJ did make specific findings about Nicks's subjective
complaints-he found them not credible where they conflicted with the
Judge's residual functional capacity assessment. The ALJ went on to discuss
some pieces of medical evidence that showed Nicks to be better off physically
than he claimed: Nicks had normal gait and coordination; he had no muscle
weakness or atrophy.
The Commissioner points to yet more medical
evidence. Nicks had full grip strength in both hands. He could walk without
assistance. And Nicks performed well at his mental consultative evaluation.
So substantial evidence supports the ALl's decision to omit some symptoms
from the question he posed, as well as from his ultimate conclusion that Nicks
could work as an assembly worker despite his lingering stroke symptoms and
other health problems.
2. Walking and Standing. Nicks argues that his trouble standing and
walking rules out sedentary work. Nicks says he hurts all the time" he is
standing, walking, or sitting. Tr. at 165. And he says that sometimes he has
sharp pains that make him fall to his knees.
As the Commissioner notes, Document No. 10, at 4, Nicks's argument
misstates the usual standing/walking requirements for sedentary work.
Sedentary work, as the label suggests, involves mostly sitting. And the
vocational expert testified that some locally available assembly jobs could be
performed sitting or standing. On those jobs, Nicks could sit, stand, or
alternate as he chose. The record would not support a conclusion that Nicks
can do no work in any posture.
3. No Proper Consideration? For his third point on appeal, Nicks
repeats some contentions about the ALI's credibility assessment, then talks
about the Medical-Vocational Guidelines. Document No.9, at 17-19. The
Court has addressed credibility already. And the Court agrees with the
Commissioner that the Guidelines point is not relevant. The vocational
expert's testimony established that jobs were available for someone like
Nicks. That proof carried the Commissioner's burden. The ALJ didn't have
to include all Nicks's alleged limitations in the hypothetical, only the ones he
found credible. Rappoport v. Sullivan, 942 F.2d 1320, 1323 (8th Cir. 1991).
Nicks makes several other arguments in passing. As best the Court can
tell, none of them has merit. Congress has limited this Court's appellate role.
Substantial evidence supports the ALJ's conclusions in this case; and the
Court sees no legal error. The Court therefore affirms the denial of benefits.
United States District Judge
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