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McCoy v. Colvin

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

August 29, 2014

NATALIE McCOY, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.


BARRY A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.

Natalie McCoy ("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 Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under Title II 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. 6.[2] Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.

1. Background:

Plaintiff's disability application has been pending for nearly ten years. On September 23, 2004, Plaintiff filed her DIB application. (Tr. 16). In this application, Plaintiff alleges an onset date of January 1, 1993. Id. Plaintiff alleges being disabled "due to scoliosis, lower back pain, arthritis, left foot deformity, and depression." Id.

This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 26-28). On May 18, 2006, an administrative hearing was held on Plaintiff's DIB application. (Tr. 337-394). Thereafter, on October 25, 2006, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for DIB. (Tr. 426-449).

Plaintiff then appealed that denial to the Western District of Arkansas, Fort Smith Division. (Tr. 460-465). See McCoy v. SSA, 2:07-cv-02100 (W.D. Ark. Sept. 17, 2007). On May 29, 2008, the Honorable U.S. Magistrate Judge James R. Marschewski remanded Plaintiff's action to the Social Security Administration for further administrative review. ECF Nos. 10-11. In the Memorandum Opinion remanding that action, Judge Marschewski stated Plaintiff's action need to be remanded to further develop the findings of Dr. Richard McCarthy, Plaintiff's treating surgeon. (Tr. 463). Judge Marschewski also noted the "relevant time period in this case is January 1, 1993, plaintiff's alleged onset date, through December 31, 1998, plaintiff's date last insured. As such, only evidence specifically related to plaintiff's condition during this time period will be relevant to the ALJ's decision on remand." (Tr. 464-465).

Thereafter, the ALJ held a second administrative hearing on December 3, 2008. (Tr. 441). After that hearing, the ALJ again entered a fully unfavorable decision. (Tr. 441-449). This decision was entered on August 26, 2009. Id. On July 29, 2011, the Appeals Council remanded Plaintiff's case back to the ALJ. (Tr. 480-482). The Appeals Council remanded Plaintiff's case because "the record upon which the Administrative Law Judge based the decision could not be located." Id.

Accordingly, the ALJ held a third administrative hearing on February 7, 2012. (Tr. 854-907). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Fred Caddell. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert ("VE") Montie Lumpkin testified at this hearing. Id. During this hearing, Plaintiff testified she was fifty (50) years old. (Tr. 860). Plaintiff also testified, however, that she was only thirty-seven (37) years old when her insured status expired on December 31, 1998. Id. A thirty-seven (37) year old would be classified as a "younger person" under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (2008). Further, Plaintiff also testified at this hearing that she completed high school and two years of college. Id.

On June 20, 2012, the ALJ entered a third fully unfavorable decision on Plaintiff's disability application. (Tr. 406-414). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff last met the insured status requirements of the Act on December 31, 1998. (Tr. 408, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity ("SGA") during the time-period from her alleged onset date of October 1, 1993 through her date last insured of December 31, 1998. (Tr. 408, Finding 2). The ALJ determined that through her date last insured, Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: scoliosis status post fusion surgery; incisional hernia; and residuals of foot surgery. (Tr. 408, Finding 3). The ALJ, however, also determined Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled one of the listed impairments in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Regulations No. 4 ("Listings"). (Tr. 408-410, Finding 4).

In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 410-414, Finding 5). First, the ALJ found Plaintiff's subjective allegations were not supported by the overall record and were not fully credible. Id. Second, in accordance with that finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the RFC to perform the "full range of sedentary work." Id. The "full range of sedentary work" includes the following:

(a) Sedentary work. Sedentary work involves lifting no more than 10 pounds at a time and occasionally lifting or carrying articles like docket files, ledgers, and small tools. Although a sedentary job is defined as one which involves sitting, a certain amount of walking and standing is often necessary in carrying out job duties. Jobs are sedentary if walking and standing are required occasionally and other sedentary criteria are met.

20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(c) (2012).

The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work ("PRW"). (Tr. 414, Finding 6). The ALJ determined Plaintiff's PRW included work as an accounting clerk. Id. Based upon her RFC, the ALJ found Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this PRW. Id. Because she retained the capacity to perform her PRW, the ALJ found Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, at any time from October 1, 1993 (her alleged onset date) until December 31, 1998 (her date last insured). (Tr. 414, Finding 6).

On February 12, 2013, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's June 20, 2012 decision. (Tr. 395-397). On March 6, 2013, Plaintiff filed the current action. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on March 8, 2013. ECF No. 6. Both Parties ...

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