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Harl v. Colvin

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

August 15, 2014

FELICIA K. HARL, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, [1] Commissioner Social Security Administration, Defendant.

MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

JAMES R. MARSCHEWSKI, Chief Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Felicia K. Harl brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of a decision of the Commissioner of Social Security Administration (Commissioner) denying her claim for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (hereinafter "the Act"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). 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).

I. Procedural Background

Plaintiff applied for SSI and DIB on August 9, 2009. (Tr. 11.) Plaintiff alleged an onset date of January 30, 2007 based on shoulder surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome; bulging disk in lower back which causes "severe pain" in back, hips and legs; weakness in right shoulder and arm; inability to raise the right arm above the shoulder; numbness and pain in right shoulder. (Tr. 11, 149.) Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing, which was held on September 29, 2010 in front of Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Ronald L. Burton. Plaintiff was present to testify and was represented by counsel. The ALJ also heard testimony from Vocational Expert ("VE") Monty Lumpkin. (Tr. 25.)

At the time of the administrative hearing, Plaintiff was 42 years old, and possessed a high school diploma. The ALJ found that Plaintiff had past relevant work experience ("PRW") of production welder, bead molder, and forklift operator. (Tr. 19.)

On December 9, 2010, ALJ Burton concluded that Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease in her cervical spine and lumbar spine, and obesity. (Tr. 13.) The ALJ found that Plaintiff maintained the residual functional capacity to perform light work with no additional limitations. (Tr. 16.) With the assistance of the VE, the ALJ determined that the Plaintiff could perform such representative occupations as light semi-skilled machine operator, with examples of fishing accessory maker, plumbing fitting finisher, and filing machine operator. (Tr. 19-20.)

Plaintiff requested a review by the Appeals Council on February 4, 2011. (Tr. 4.) The Appeals Council declined review on December 1, 2011. (Tr. 1.)

Plaintiff filed an appeal to federal court on December 12, 2011. (Tr. 413.) On November 14, 2012, this Court noted that "none of the Plaintiff's treating physicians were asked to make a physical residual functional capacity assessment." (Tr. 422.) The case was therefore remanded with a directive to the ALJ to "address specific inquiries to obtain an RFC from the Plaintiff's treating physician." (Tr. 422.) The Court also noted that there were two divergent non-examining RFC Assessments from Agency Physicians Payne and Takach, and that "[i]nterestingly the ALJ does not try to differentiate between the two divergent RFC assessments but discounts both." (Tr. 420.)

In accordance with court remand order, the AC vacated and remanded the first decision on January 15, 2013. (Tr. 428.)

A second administrative hearing was held on April 1, 2103 in front of ALJ Burton. Plaintiff was present to testify and was represented by counsel. The ALJ also heard testimony from VE Larry Seifert. (Tr. 355.)

At the time of the administrative hearing, Plaintiff was 45 years old, and possessed a high school diploma. The ALJ found that Plaintiff had past relevant work experience ("PRW") of wire machine tender, forklift driver, and quality checker. (Tr. 348.)

On August 27, 2013, ALJ Burton concluded that Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease, lumbago, chronic low back pain, and obesity. (Tr. 13.) The ALJ found that Plaintiff maintained the residual functional capacity to perform light work with no additional limitations. (Tr. 345.) With the assistance of the VE, the ALJ determined that the Plaintiff could perform her past relevant work as a quality checker. (Tr. 348.)

The ALJ's decision is the final Agency decision in the case pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 404.984.

Plaintiff filed the current appeal to federal court on December 11, 2013. (ECF. No. 1.) Both parties have filed appeal briefs, and the case is ...


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