Peyton v. Social Security Administration
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER: Mr. Peyton's appeal is DENIED, and the Clerk of Court is directed to close the case. The hearing scheduled for August 13, 2015 is cancelled. Signed by Magistrate Judge Beth Deere on 8/5/2015. (ks)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
PINE BLUFF DIVISION
CASE NO. 5:14CV00386-BD
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner,
Social Security Administration
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff William Peyton appeals the final decision of the Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration (the “Commissioner”) denying his claims for Disability
Insurance benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act (the “Act”) and for
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits under Title XVI of the Act. For reasons
set out below, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.
On June 16, 2009, Mr. Peyton protectively filed for benefits due to
cardiomyopathy, depression, and hypertension. (Tr. 119, 313) An Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) denied Mr. Peyton’s claims in a September 22, 2011 decision, but the
ruling was remanded by the Appeals Council. (Tr. 119-128, 135-137) Upon remand, the
ALJ held a hearing on February 19, 2013, where Mr. Peyton appeared with his lawyer.
At the hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from Mr. Peyton and a vocational expert (“VE”).
The ALJ issued a decision on May 16, 2013, finding that Mr. Peyton was not
disabled under the Act. (Tr. 20-36) On August 25, 2014, the Appeals Council denied
Mr. Peyton’s request for review, making the ALJ’s decision the Commissioner’s final
decision. (Tr. 1-3) On October 22, 2014, Mr. Peyton filed this appeal. (Docket entry #2)
The parties have filed their briefs, and the case is ready for decision.1
Mr. Peyton, who was forty-nine years old at the time of the hearing, has some
college credits and past relevant work as a clothing sales person, LPN, and HVAC
salesperson. (Tr. 86, 105)
Decision of the Administrative Law Judge2
The ALJ found that Mr. Peyton had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since September 1, 2008, and had the following severe impairments: cardiomyopathy
status post pacemaker implantation, hypertension, and congestive heart failure. (Tr. 23)
Mr. Peyton did not have an impairment or combination of impairments, however, that met
or equaled an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.3 (Tr. 24)
According to the ALJ, Mr. Peyton retained the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform sedentary work with no significant bending, stooping, crouching, or
The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate judge. (#7)
The ALJ followed the required sequential analysis to determine: (1) whether the
claimant was engaged in substantial gainful activity; (2) if not, whether the claimant had a
severe impairment; (3) if so, whether the impairment (or combination of impairments)
met or equaled a listed impairment; and (4) if not, whether the impairment (or
combination of impairments) prevented the claimant from performing past relevant work;
and (5) if so, whether the impairment (or combination of impairments) prevented the
claimant from performing any other jobs available in significant numbers in the national
economy. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)-(g) and 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)-(g).
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 426.930(d), 416.925, and
climbing. (Tr. 25) The VE testified that telemarketing jobs were available with these
limitations. (Tr. 109) Accordingly, the ALJ determined that Mr. Peyton could perform a
number of jobs in the national economy and was not disabled.
Standard of Review
In reviewing the Commissioner’s decision, this Court must determine whether
there is substantial evidence in the record as a whole to support the decision. Boettcher v.
Astrue, 652 F.3d 860, 863 (8th Cir. 2011); 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Substantial evidence is
“less than a preponderance, but sufficient for reasonable minds to find it adequate to
support the decision.” Id. (citing Guilliams v. Barnhart, 393 F.3d 798, 801 (8th Cir.
In reviewing the record as a whole, the Court must consider both evidence that
detracts from the Commissioner’s decision and evidence that supports the decision; but,
the decision cannot be reversed, “simply because some evidence may support the opposite
conclusion.” Id. (citing Pelkey v. Barnhart, 433 F.3d 575, 578 (8th Cir. 2006)).
Mr. Peyton’s Argument for Reversal
Mr. Peyton asserts that the Commissioner’s decision should be reversed because
the ALJ: (1) failed to provide evidence of jobs existing in the national economy; and
(2) improperly used the medical-vocational guidelines. (Docket entry #19)
Jobs in National Economy
Mr. Peyton argues that the ALJ failed to provide evidence that work existed that he
could perform because the VE’s testimony “does not indicate an individual with the stated
residual functional capacity could perform telemarketing jobs.” (Id.) Basically, Mr.
Peyton takes issues with the question and answer exchange between the ALJ and VE.
The ALJ asked the VE to consider a hypothetical person with the same work history and
education as Mr. Peyton who would be limited to sedentary work with no significant
stooping, crouching, or bending. After the VE testified that this hypothetical person
would not be able to do any of Mr. Peyton’s past relevant work, the ALJ asked if any
skills would be transferable. The VE testified that some skills would transfer, and the
hypothetical person could work as a telemarketer. (Tr. 107-109)
As required, the hypothetical set out the limitations relevant to the impairments
and the VE understood the hypothetical. Additionally, Plaintiff’s counsel understood the
hypothetical, because he followed-up with a question “add[ing] one more variable to the
Judge’s hypothetical.” (Tr. 109)
Mr. Peyton also argues that the VE’s response considered only general sedentary
work and did not consider the limitation of no significant bending, stooping, crouching,
or climbing. Even if this were true, the argument is without merit because the limitations
in the RFC “would not usually erode the occupational base for a full range of unskilled
sedentary work significantly because those activities are not usually required in sedentary
work.” Social Security Ruling 96-9p, 1996 WL 374185, at *7.
Mr. Peyton also argues that the ALJ erred by basing his findings on the MedicalVocational Guidelines. Although the ALJ mentioned the Medical-Vocational Guidelines
in his opinion, he also cited and relied on the VE’s testimony There was no error.
The Court has reviewed the entire record, including the briefs, the ALJ’s decision,
the transcript of the hearing, and the medical and other evidence. There is sufficient
evidence in the record as a whole to support the Commissioner’s decision. There is no
Accordingly, Mr. Peyton’s appeal is DENIED, and the Clerk of Court is directed
to close the case. The hearing scheduled for August 13, 2015 is cancelled.
IT IS SO ORDERED, this 5th day of August, 2015.
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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