Bailey v. Social Security Administration Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Honorable Barry A. Bryant on May 29, 2012. (lw)
N THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
FORT SMITH DIVISION
CHARLES D. BAILEY
Civil No. 2:11-cv-02118
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE
Commissioner, Social Security Administration
Charles D. Bailey (“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”) and a period of disability 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 postjudgment proceedings. ECF No. 7.1 Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum
opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.
Plaintiff protectively filed his current disability application on June 21, 2007.2 (Tr. 18, 115-
116). Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression with
psychotic features, memory problems, pain in the back, alcoholism, diabetes, and stress. (Tr. 28).
The docket numbers for this case are referenced by the designation “ECF No. ____” The transcript pages
for this case are referenced by the designation “Tr.”
Plaintiff previously filed a disability application alleging an onset date of March 31, 1994. (Tr. 25-29).
This previous application was denied on March 22, 2000. Id.
In this application, Plaintiff initially alleged an onset date of March 1, 2000 but later amended that
alleged onset date to March 31, 1994. (Tr. 18, 115-116). These applications were denied initially and
again on reconsideration. (Tr. 53-74).
Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on his application, and this hearing
request was granted. (Tr. 75-78, 929-945). An administrative hearing was held on February 24,
2009.3 (Tr. 929-945). At the administrative hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by
Lawrence Fitting. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) David O’Neill testified at this hearing.
Id. On August 3, 2009, subsequent to this hearing, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision on
Plaintiff’s application. (Tr. 18-22).
In that decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff’s insured status for purposes of DIB expired on
March 31, 1994. (Tr. 21). The ALJ also found there was a previous determination from March 22,
2000 which addressed Plaintiff’s medical records up until March 31, 1994 and found Plaintiff was
not disabled. (Tr. 21, 25-29). Because Plaintiff’s alleged impairments prior and up to March 31,
1994 had been previously decided in an administrative opinion, the ALJ applied administrative res
judicata and dismissed Plaintiff’s case. (Tr. 18-22).
On August 10, 2009, Plaintiff requested that the Appeals Council review the ALJ’s
unfavorable decision. (Tr. 13). See 20 C.F.R. § 404.968. On March 25, 2011, the Appeals Council
declined to review this disability determination. (Tr. 4-7). On July 1, 2011, Plaintiff filed the present
appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on August 1, 2011. ECF
No. 7. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 10-11. This case is now ready for decision.
It is unclear where this hearing actually took place. The hearing transcript only states it took place in
“Arkansas.” (Tr. 929-945).
In reviewing this case, this Court is required to determine whether the Commissioner’s
findings are supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)
(2006); Ramirez v. Barnhart, 292 F.3d 576, 583 (8th Cir. 2002). Substantial evidence is less than
a preponderance of the evidence, but it is enough that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to
support the Commissioner’s decision. See Johnson v. Apfel, 240 F.3d 1145, 1147 (8th Cir. 2001).
As long as there is substantial evidence in the record that supports the Commissioner’s decision, the
Court may not reverse it simply because substantial evidence exists in the record that would have
supported a contrary outcome or because the Court would have decided the case differently. See
Haley v. Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747 (8th Cir. 2001). If, after reviewing the record, it is possible
to draw two inconsistent positions from the evidence and one of those positions represents the
findings of the ALJ, the decision of the ALJ must be affirmed. See Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065,
1068 (8th Cir. 2000).
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. §§ 423(d)(3), 1382(3)(c). A plaintiff must show that his or her
disability, not simply his or her impairment, has lasted for at least twelve consecutive months. See
42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A).
To determine whether the adult claimant suffers from a disability, the Commissioner uses the
familiar five-step sequential evaluation. He determines: (1) whether the claimant is presently engaged
in a “substantial gainful activity”; (2) whether the claimant has a severe impairment that significantly
limits the claimant’s physical or mental ability to perform basic work activities; (3) whether the
claimant has an impairment that meets or equals a presumptively disabling impairment listed in the
regulations (if so, the claimant is disabled without regard to age, education, and work experience);
(4) whether the claimant has the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to perform his or her past
relevant work; and (5) if the claimant cannot perform the past work, the burden shifts to the
Commissioner to prove that there are other jobs in the national economy that the claimant can
perform. See Cox, 160 F.3d at 1206; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)-(f). The fact finder only considers
the plaintiff’s age, education, and work experience in light of his or her RFC if the final stage of this
analysis is reached. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920 (2003).
In his appeal brief, Plaintiff raises one argument for reversal: the ALJ improperly applied the
doctrine of res judicata in this case. ECF No. 10 at 1-10. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges res judicata
should not have been applied because of the following “new and material” evidence: (1) VA
treatment notes from 1997 to 2000 (Tr. 218-810); (2) VA examinations from 2001 and 2002 (Tr. 192201); and (3) two medical source statements from 2007 (Tr. 213-217).
Based upon a review of the record, the prior ALJ issued a final decision on March 22, 2000
on Plaintiff’s prior application. (Tr. 25-29). This decision addressed the time-period up to Plaintiff’s
Date Last Insured (“DLI”) of March 31, 1994. Id. There is no dispute this was a final administrative
decision, and Plaintiff recognizes he did not seek review of this unfavorable decision. ECF No. 10
at 8-9. Instead, Plaintiff claims res judicata does not apply because of the “new and material”
evidence referenced above, which make the facts in this case different from those before the ALJ in
However, even assuming the ALJ had not applied res judicata and had readjudicated this
claim, Plaintiff still has not provided evidence establishing he was disabled prior to his DLI. Indeed,
all of the evidence he has presented relates to his condition subsequent to March 31, 1994. Disability
benefits requested under DIB cannot be paid for a period after a claimant’s disability insured status
expires or after his or her DLI. See Pyland v. Apfel, 149 F.3d 873, 876 (8th Cir. 1998) (holding that
to qualify for DIB, a claimant must show he was disabled before his DLI). Thus, because Plaintiff’s
DLI was March 31, 1994, the ALJ was not required to adopt the findings from these medical records
which were dated at least three years after that date. See Bayley v. Astrue, 285 F. App’x 324, at *1
(8th Cir. 2008) (unpublished) (holding the ALJ did not err by failing to adopt the RFC finding of a
treating physician that was completed two years after the claimant’s DLI). See also Lee v. Astrue, 276
F. App’x 529, at *1 (8th Cir. 2008) (unpublished) (also recognizing the ALJ is not bound to adopt the
RFC findings from a treating physician which are dated “well after” the DLI). Thus, this Court finds
Plaintiff has not provided a basis for reversing and remanding the ALJ’s determination.
Based on the foregoing, the undersigned finds that the decision of the ALJ, denying benefits
to Plaintiff, should be affirmed. A judgment incorporating these findings will be entered pursuant
to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 52 and 58.
ENTERED this 29th day of May 2012.
/s/ Barry A. Bryant
HON. BARRY A. BRYANT
U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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