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Linton v. Colvin

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

September 10, 2014

SONORA LINTON, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOE J. VOLPE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Sonora Linton, 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 April 10, 2008, Ms. Linton protectively filed for SSI benefits. Her claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration. Twice, [1] the Appeals Council remanded Ms. Linton's case. After that last remand, the Council directed the Commissioner to (1) evaluate the June 20, 2011, non-treating source opinion by Dr. Chakales and (2) discuss Ms. Linton's work after the alleged onset date. (Tr. 153-155)

An Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") held a remand hearing on May 6, 2013, where Ms. Linton appeared with her lawyer. (Tr. 30) At the hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from Ms. Linton and a vocational expert ("VE"). (Tr. 31-54)

The ALJ issued a decision on September 17, 2013, finding that Ms. Linton was not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 10-22) The Appeals Council denied Ms. Linton's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. (Tr. 1-3)

Ms. Linton, who was forty-six years old at the time of the hearing, has a GED and certification as a CNA. (Tr. 34-35) She has past relevant work as a salvage laborer, dishwasher, hand-packager, and companion/sitter. (Tr. 49-50)

II. DECISION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE[2]

The ALJ found that Ms. Linton engaged in substantial gainful activity from January 2011 to December 2012, but alleged disability since October 2007. (Tr. 11, 13) He found that she had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, lumbar spondylosis, and depression. (Tr. 13) However, the ALJ found that Ms. Linton 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.[3] (Tr. 14)

The ALJ determined that Ms. Linton has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform sedentary work, except that she can no more than frequently perform postural activities like bending and stooping. She can understand, remember, and carry out three to four-step tasks and instructions. (Tr. 15) The VE testified that the jobs available with these limitations were order clerk, light vehicle driver, and small products final assembler. (Tr. 52)

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

III. ANALYSIS

A. Standard of Review

In reviewing the Commissioner's decision, this Court must determine whether there is substantial evidence in the record as a whole to support the decision.[4] Substantial evidence is "less than a preponderance, but sufficient for ...


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