Bolt v. Social Security Administration
ORDER REMANDING TO THE COMMISSIONER. The ALJ's decision is not supported by substantial evidence based on inadequate consideration of Mr. Bolt's incontinence. This case is hereby remanded with instructions to develop the record as necessary and to consider how Mr. Bolt's incontinence affects his employability. Signed by Magistrate Judge Beth Deere on 5/4/2017. (jak)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner,
Social Security Administration
ORDER REMANDING TO THE COMMISSIONER
John Bolt applied for social security disability benefits alleging an onset date of
June 28, 2013. (R. at 72). The administrative law judge (ALJ) denied his applications
after a hearing. (R. at 41). Mr. Bolt requested review, but the Appeals Council denied that
request, rendering the ALJ’s decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (R. at 1).
Mr. Bolt thereafter requested judicial review, and the parties have consented to the
jurisdiction of the magistrate judge.
For the reasons stated below, this Court reverses and remands the Commissioner’s
The Commissioner’s Decision
The ALJ found that Mr. Bolt had the following severe impairments: hypertension,
obstructive sleep apnea, obesity (non-morbid), and anxiety disorder NOS. (R. at 31). The
ALJ found that Mr. Bolt had the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform work at
all exertional levels but would be limited to unskilled work where interpersonal contact is
incidental to the work performed; the complexity of tasks is learned and performed by
rote with few variables and little independent judgment; and supervision is simple, direct,
and concrete. (R. at 33). The ALJ further found that Mr. Bolt could not deal with the
general public and would be off-task less than five percent of the time. (R. at 33). The
ALJ took testimony from a vocational expert and found that Mr. Bolt could return to his
past relevant work as a warehouse worker or retail custodian or could perform other jobs
such as hand packer or polisher. (R. at 39–40). The ALJ concluded, therefore, that Mr.
Bolt was not disabled. (R. at 40–41).
This Court reviews the decision of the ALJ to determine whether it is supported by
“substantial evidence on the record as a whole.” Wilcutts v. Apfel, 143 F.3d 1134, 1136
(8th Cir. 1998). This requires that the Court consider evidence that supports the
Commissioner’s decision as well as evidence that would support a contrary outcome.
The Court will not reverse, however, “merely because substantial evidence exists for the
opposite decision.” Long v. Chater, 108 F.3d 185, 187 (8th Cir. 1997) (quoting Johnson
v. Chater, 87 F.3d 1015, 1017 (8th Cir. 1996)).
In this appeal, Mr. Bolt argues that the ALJ: erred in failing to account for
incontinence and knee pain; failed to include exertional limitations in the RFC;
impermissibly drew his own inferences from the medical evidence; and failed to properly
explain the limitation that Mr. Bolt would be off-task less than five percent of the time.
The ALJ discounted Mr. Bolt’s incontinence because on June 30, 2014, Mr. Bolt’s
treating physician assessed his urinary frequency as “improved.” (R. at 296). The note
consists only of the word “improved,” with no additional details. As Mr. Bolt points out,
he later complained on August 5, 2014, that the medication for his overactive bladder was
not working. (R. at 308).
The Commissioner notes that Mr. Bolt continued on the same medication and that
the treating physician did not focus on the incontinence in subsequent visits. Even so,
urinary frequency remained a listed condition at Mr. Bolt’s subsequent visits, which
indicates that the issue was not resolved. (R. at 325, 329). Another doctor noted Mr.
Bolt’s bladder problems on August 28, 2014. (R. at 318). And Mr. Bolt testified at the
hearing to continuing problems with incontinence, stating that he had to void several
times during the night and that the frequency of urination was causing marital problems
and had caused him to lose his job. (R. at 59–60).
In discounting Mr. Bolt’s incontinence, the ALJ concluded that a single one-word
note overcame the multiple records and testimony concerning this impairment. It is the
duty of this Court to consider not only the evidence supporting the decision but also the
evidence detracting from it. Wilcutts v. Apfel, 143 F.3d 1134, 1136-37 (8th Cir. 1998).
When the record is viewed as a whole, the evidence supporting the ALJ’s decision is not
The case must be remanded because the ALJ erred by failing to account for Mr.
Bolt’s incontinence. Therefore, Court need not address other points raised in this appeal.
The ALJ’s decision is not supported by substantial evidence based on inadequate
consideration of Mr. Bolt’s incontinence. This case is hereby remanded with instructions
to develop the record as necessary and to consider how Mr. Bolt’s incontinence affects
IT IS SO ORDERED, this 4th day of May, 2017.
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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