Rogers vs Social Security Administration Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Honorable Erin L. Wiedemann on December 1, 2017. (rg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
JESSE CURTIS ROGERS
CIVIL NO. 16-3091
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, 1 Commissioner
Social Security Administration
Plaintiff, Jesse Curtis Rogers brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking
judicial review of a decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(Commissioner) denying his claims for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits
(DIB) under the provisions of Title II of the Social Security Act (Act). In this judicial review,
the Court must determine whether there is substantial evidence in the administrative record to
support the Commissioner's decision. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Plaintiff protectively filed his current application for DIB on August 14, 2013, alleging
an inability to work since May 28, 2013, due to shoulder pain, back pain, a burn injury,
depression, ADD (attention deficit disorder), joint pain, high cholesterol, high blood pressure,
PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder), and anxiety. (Tr. 107-108, 187). An administrative
hearing was held on August 28, 2014, at which Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified.
(Tr. 49-105). A vocational expert and Plaintiff’s wife also testified at this hearing.
Nancy A. Berryhill, has been appointed to serve as acting Commissioner of Social Security, and is substituted as
Defendant, pursuant to Rule 25(d)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
By written decision dated May 29, 2015, the ALJ found that during the relevant time
period, Plaintiff had an impairment or combination of impairments that were severe. (Tr. 32).
osteoarthritis/degenerative disc disease of the lumbar and cervical spine; mild obesity; history
of right clavicle fracture; hypertension; history of burns to the upper body; history of hernia
and small bowel obstruction surgery; history of syncope; depression; generalized anxiety with
panic attacks; and PTSD. However, after reviewing all of the evidence presented, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff’s impairments did not meet or equal the level of severity of any
impairment listed in the Listing of Impairments found in Appendix I, Subpart P, Regulation
No. 4. (Tr. 33). The ALJ found Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to:
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except he must avoid
concentrated exposure to extreme heat and must avoid any work that involves
exposure to direct sunlight. He must also avoid concentrated exposure to
hazards including no driving as part of work. In addition, the claimant is
capable of 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 use of judgment, and the supervision required is simple,
direct and concrete.
(Tr. 35). With the help of a vocational expert, the ALJ determined Plaintiff could perform
work as a machine tender, an inspector, and a price marker. (Tr. 42).
Plaintiff then requested a review of the hearing decision by the Appeals Council, which
after reviewing additional evidence submitted by Plaintiff, denied that request on June 22,
2016. (Tr. 1-4). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action. (Doc. 1). This case is before the
undersigned pursuant to the consent of the parties. (Doc. 6). Both parties have filed appeal
briefs, and the case is now ready for decision. (Docs. 12, 13).
This Court's role is to determine whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by
substantial evidence on the record as a whole. Ramirez v. Barnhart, 292 F.3d 576, 583 (8th
Cir. 2002). Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance but it is enough that a reasonable
mind would find it adequate to support the Commissioner's decision. The ALJ's decision must
be affirmed if the record contains substantial evidence to support it. Edwards v. Barnhart, 314
F.3d 964, 966 (8th Cir. 2003). 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. Haley v. Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747 (8th
Cir. 2001). In other words, 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. Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065, 1068 (8th Cir. 2000).
The Court has reviewed the entire transcript and the parties’ briefs. For the reasons
stated in the ALJ’s well-reasoned opinion and the Government’s brief, the Court finds
Plaintiff’s arguments on appeal to be without merit and finds that the record as a whole reflects
substantial evidence to support the ALJ’s decision. Accordingly, the ALJ’s decision is hereby
summarily affirmed and Plaintiff’s Complaint is dismissed with prejudice. See Sledge v.
Astrue, No. 08-0089, 2008 WL 4816675 (W.D. Mo. Oct. 31, 2008) (summarily affirming
ALJ’s denial of disability benefits), aff’d, 364 Fed. Appx. 307 (8th Cir. 2010).
IT IS SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED this 1st day of December 2017.
/s/ Erin L. Wiedemann
HON. ERIN L. WIEDEMANN
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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