Brown 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 11, 2017. (rg) Modified on 9/12/2017 to edit type of document(tg).
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
MICHAEL R. BROWN
CIVIL NO. 16-5133
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, 1 Commissioner
Social Security Administration
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND JUDGMENT
Plaintiff, Michael Brown, 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 filed his application for DIB and protectively filed his application for SSI on
September 23, 2013. Plaintiff alleged an inability to work since March 1, 2013, due to heart
disease, shortness of breath, high blood pressure, and back pain. (Tr. 216.) An administrative
hearing was held on December 10, 2014, at which Plaintiff, Plaintiff’s sister, and a vocational
expert testified. (Tr. 29-56.)
By written decision dated February 12, 2015, the ALJ found that during the relevant
time period, Plaintiff had an impairment or combination of impairments that were severe.
Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: hypertension,
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.
coronary artery disease, restrictive airways disease, osteoarthritis of his left knee and chronic
low back pain. (Tr. 14.) 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. The ALJ found Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform
light work in a controlled environment where he is not exposed to dust, smoke, fumes in
concentrated amounts, or temperature extremes. (Tr. 17.) With the help of a vocational expert,
the ALJ determined that Plaintiff could not perform his past relevant work, but could perform
other jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy, such as a merchandise
marker, labeler, marker II, and power screwdriver operator. (Tr. 22.)
Plaintiff then requested a review of the hearing decision by the Appeals Council, which
denied that request on April 5, 2016. (Tr. 1-3.) 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. 11, 12.)
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 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).
DATED this 11th day of September, 2017.
/s/ Erin L. Wiedemann
HON. ERIN L. WIEDEMANN
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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