Jones v. Social Security Administration Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Honorable Erin L. Wiedemann on April 27, 2021. (lgd)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
SHANNON C. JONES
CIVIL NO. 20-cv-03057
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner
Social Security Administration
Plaintiff, Shannon C. Jones, brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking
judicial review of a decision of the Commissioner of Social Security Administration
(Commissioner) denying his claim for supplemental security income (“SSI”) under the
provisions of Title XVI of the Social Security Act (the “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 application for SSI on October 21, 2016. (Tr. 58). In his
applications, Plaintiff alleged disability beginning on October 10, 2016, due to: a craniotomy,
triple bypass surgery, high blood pressure, stents in his heart, a stroke, short term memory loss,
an inability to walk for long periods of time, and needing a cane to walk. (Tr. 58, 1253). An
administrative hearing was held on October 4, 2018, at which Plaintiff appeared with counsel
and testified. (Tr. 1039-91). Plaintiff’s mother and a vocational expert (“VE”) also testified.
On September 11, 2019, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision. (Tr. 55). The ALJ
found that during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an impairment or combination of
impairments that were severe: ischemic heart disease, late effects of injuries to the nervous
system, depressive disorder, and a personality disorder. (Tr. 60-61). However, after reviewing
all of the evidence presented, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff’s impairments did not meet or
equal the severity of any impairment listed in the Listing of Impairments found in 20 CFR Part
404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 61-64). The ALJ found that Plaintiff retained the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to:
[P]erform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(a) except he can only
occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl, and climb ramps and stairs, but
can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds and requires the use of a handheld
assistive device for balance. He is limited to frequent handling and fingering with
his left upper extremity and frequent operation of foot controls with his left lower
extremity. The claimant must avoid concentrated exposure to hazardous machinery,
unprotected heights, fumes, odors, dusts, gases, and poorly ventilated areas. He is
capable of performing work where interpersonal contact is incidental to the work
performed and involves tasks where the complexity of the work is learned and
performed by rote with few variables and little judgement, where the supervision
required is simple, direct, and concrete.
The ALJ found Plaintiff would be unable to perform any of his past relevant work.
(Tr. 67-68). With the help of a vocational expert, the ALJ then determined that Plaintiff could
perform the representative occupations of small product assembler, document preparer, or
circuit board layout inspector. (Tr. 68-69). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not been disabled
since October 21, 2016. (Tr. 69).
Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action. (Doc. 2). This case is before the undersigned
pursuant to the consent of the parties. (Doc. 5). Both parties have filed appeal briefs, and the
case is now ready for decision. (Docs. 15, 16).
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).
Plaintiff brings the following points on appeal: 1) Whether the ALJ committed
reversible error by finding the consultative examiner’s conclusion unpersuasive; and 2)
Whether the ALJ committed reversible error by failing to incorporate all of Plaintiff’s
medically documented limitations in the RFC. (Doc. 15). The Court has reviewed the entire
transcript and the parties’ briefs. For the reasons stated in the ALJ’s well-reasoned opinion
and in the Government’s brief, the Court finds Plaintiff’s arguments on appeal to be without
merit and finds 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, 364 Fed. Appx. 307 (8th Cir.
2010)(district court summarily affirmed the ALJ).
IT IS SO ORDERED this 27nd day of April 2021.
/s/ Erin L. Wiedemann
HON. ERIN L. WIEDEMANN
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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