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Perkins v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Eastern Division

August 13, 2014

GWEN PERKINS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOE J. VOLPE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Gwen Perkins, appeals the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the "Commissioner") denying her claims for supplemental security income ("SSI") benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (the "Act"). For reasons set out below, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.

I. BACKGROUND

On February 20, 2008, Ms. Perkins protectively filed for SSI benefits due to lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and a leg ulcer. (Tr. 46, 51, 52, 212) Her claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. At Ms. Perkins's request, an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") held a hearing on January 19, 2010, where Ms. Perkins appeared with her lawyer. (Tr. 28) At the hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from Ms. Perkins and a vocational expert ("VE"). (Tr. 29-39)

The ALJ issued a decision on April 22, 2010, finding that Ms. Perkins was not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 72-82) On December 5, 2011, the Appeals Council granted Ms. Perkins's request for review, and remanded the case to "ensure that any objection or request submitted in response to proffered evidence is addressed in a formal ruling, either n the decision or by separate order, and ensure that such a ruling is made part of the record." (Tr. 88)

A second hearing was held on September 14, 2012, where the ALJ heard testimony from Ms. Perkins and a VE. (Tr. 40-66)

The ALJ issued a decision on November 26, 2012, finding that Ms. Perkins was not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 12-22) The Appeals Council denied Ms. Perkins's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. (Tr. 1-3)

Ms. Perkins, who was thirty-four years old at the time of the second hearing, has a ninth grade education. (Tr. 47) She has no past relevant work. (Tr. 62)

II. DECISION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE[1]

The ALJ found that Ms. Perkins had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since February 20, 2008, and she had the following severe impairments: lupus, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and a persistent decubitus ulcer on the right lower extremity. (Tr. 14) However, the ALJ found that Ms. Perkins did not have an impairment or combination of impairments meeting or equaling an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.[2] (Tr. 16)

According to the ALJ, Ms. Perkins has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work, but there could be only occasional balancing, crouching, stooping, kneeling, crawling, and climbing, and she would need to avoid all concentrated exposure to extreme heat and cold, fumes, odors, dusts, other pulmonary irritants, and certain hazards such as unprotected heights and dangerous, moving machinery. (Tr. 17) The VE testified that the jobs available with these limitations were ticket seller[3] and cashier. (Tr. 62-63)

After considering the VE's testimony, the ALJ determined that Ms. Perkins could perform a significant number of jobs existing in the national economy, and found that Ms. Perkins was not disabled.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Standard of ...


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