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Martin v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division

July 10, 2014

MECHELLE R. MARTIN, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

BARRY A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.

Mechelle R. Martin ("Plaintiff") brings this action pursuant to § 205(g) of Title II of the Social Security Act ("The Act"), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2010), seeking judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("SSA") denying her application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Title XVI of the Act. The Parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate judge to conduct any and all proceedings in this case, including conducting the trial, ordering the entry of a final judgment, and conducting all post-judgment proceedings. ECF No. 7.[1] Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.

1. Background:

Plaintiff protectively filed her SSI application on April 26, 2007. (Tr. 15, 226). In her application, Plaintiff claims to be disabled due to asthma, anxiety disorder, and bipolar disorder. (Tr. 271). At the administrative hearing in this matter on April 16, 2009, Plaintiff also alleged being disabled due to carpal tunnel syndrome. (Tr. 62). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of January 1, 2005.[2] (Tr. 15). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 112-114). Thereafter, on March 19, 2008, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 146).

Plaintiff's original administrative hearing was held on January 23, 2009, and Plaintiff's supplemental administrative hearing was held on April 16, 2009. (Tr. 57-111). At this supplemental hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Keith Blythe. (Tr. 57-86). Plaintiff and Vocational Expert ("VE") Sarah Moore testified at this hearing. Id. As of the date of this hearing, Plaintiff was thirty-nine (39) years old, which is defined as a "younger person" under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c). (Tr. 61). Plaintiff also testified at this hearing that she had only completed the seventh grade in school. (Tr. 63).

On January 19, 2012, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for SSI. (Tr. 12-30). In this decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity ("SGA") since April 26, 2007, her application date. (Tr. 17, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), facet hypertrophy of the lumbar spine, hypertension, obesity, bipolar disorder, and dependent personality disorder. (Tr. 17, Finding 2). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or medically equal the requirements of any of the Listings of Impairments in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Regulations No. 4 ("Listings"). (Tr. 17-21, Finding 3).

In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 21-28, Finding 4). First, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and found her claimed limitations were not entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the RFC to perform the following:

After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except the claimant must avoid concentrated exposure to fumes, dusts, odors, gases, and other pulmonary irritants. Further, the claimant can understand, remember, and carry out simple, routine, and repetitive tasks; can respond to usual work situations and ordinary work changes; can have incidental contact with supervisors and coworkers; but can have no contact with the general public.

Id. "Light work" includes the following:

(b) Light work. Light work involves lifting no more than 20 pounds at a time with frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 10 pounds. Even though the weight lifted may be very little, a job is in this category when it requires a good deal of walking or standing, or when it involves sitting most of the time with some pushing and pulling of arm or leg controls. To be considered capable of performing a full or wide range of light work, you must have the ability to do substantially all of these activities. If someone can do light work, we determine that he or she can also do sedentary work, unless there are additional limiting factors such as loss of fine dexterity or inability to sit for long periods of time.

20 C.F.R. § 416.967(b) (2010).

The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work ("PRW") and determined Plaintiff had no PRW. (Tr. 28, Finding 5). The ALJ then evaluated whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy considering her age, education, work experience, and RFC. (Tr. 29-30, Finding 9). The ALJ heard testimony from the VE on this issue. Id. Based upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform representative occupations such as an assembler (example: toy assembler and bottle line attendant) with 10, 969 such jobs in Arkansas and 571, 519 such jobs in the national economy and such as inspectors and sorters (example: gasket inspector) with 1, 609 such jobs in Arkansas and 127, 194 such jobs in the national economy. Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from her application date of April 26, 2007. (Tr. 29, Finding 10).

Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the ALJ's unfavorable decision. (Tr. 10). On April 3, 2013, the Appeals Council declined to review this unfavorable decision. (Tr. 1-3). On June 7, 2013, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on June 7, 2013. ECF No. 7. ...


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