Harris v. Social Security Administration Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND JUDGMENT. Signed by Honorable Erin L. Wiedemann on September 14, 2017. (tg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
MICHAEL JOE HARRIS
CIVIL NO. 16-5134
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, 1 Commissioner
Social Security Administration
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND JUDGMENT
Plaintiff, Michael Joe Harris, 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 claim for supplemental security income (SSI) benefits under the
provisions of Title 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 current application for SSI on August 8, 2013, alleging
an inability to work due to mental problems. (Tr. 73, 138). An administrative video hearing
was held on July 29, 2014, at which Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified. (Tr. 39-71).
A witness for Plaintiff and a vocational expert also testified at this hearing.
By written decision dated March 25, 2015, the ALJ found that during the relevant time
period, Plaintiff had an impairment or combination of impairments that were severe. (Tr. 13).
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.
Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder. 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. 13). 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: the claimant 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 and little judgment; and the
supervision required is simple, direct and concrete.
(Tr. 15). With the help of a vocational expert, the ALJ determined Plaintiff could perform
work as a poultry dresser, a housekeeper, and an air purifier servicer. (Tr. 19).
Plaintiff then requested a review of the hearing decision by the Appeals Council, which
denied that request on April 26, 2016. (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. 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 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 14th day of September 2017.
/s/ Erin L. Wiedemann
HON. ERIN L. WIEDEMANN
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?