Slankard v. Social Security Administration Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND JUDGMENT AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER and Plaintiffs case is dismissed with prejudice. Signed by Honorable Erin L. Wiedemann on September 29, 2017. (tg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
RICHARD WILLIAM SLANKARD
CIVIL NO. 5:16-CV-5086
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,1 Acting Commissioner
Social Security Administration
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND JUDGMENT
Plaintiff, Richard William Slankard, 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) and supplemental security income (SSI) benefits under the provisions
of Titles II and XVI 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 applications for DIB and SSI on July 23, 2014. Plaintiff
alleged an inability to work since July 1, 2014, due to being slow mentally, nervousness,
hearing loss and pain in his left ear, headaches, and neck pain. (Tr. 60). An administrative
hearing was held on March 3, 2015, at which Plaintiff and a vocational expert testified. (Tr.
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 June 18, 2015, the ALJ found that during the relevant time
period, Plaintiff had a severe impairment of mild intellectual disability. (Tr. 17). However,
after reviewing all of the evidence presented, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff’s impairment
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. The ALJ found Plaintiff
retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform a full range of work at all exertional
levels but with the following nonexertional limitations: He is able to perform work where
interpersonal contact is incidental to work performed; complexity of tasks is learned and
performed by rote, with few variables, requiring little judgment; and supervision required is
simple, direct, and concrete. Plaintiff is limited to jobs that do not require complex written
communication, and he is limited to jobs that do not require excellent hearing. (Tr. 19). With
the help of a vocational expert, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff could perform his past
relevant work as a sandblaster. (Tr. 25).
Plaintiff then requested a review of the hearing decision by the Appeals Council, which
denied that request on September 24, 2015. (Tr. 1-6). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action.
(Doc. 1). This case is before the undersigned pursuant to the consent of the parties. (Doc. 7.)
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 29th day of September, 2017.
/s/ Erin L. Wiedemann
HON. ERIN L. WIEDEMANN
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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