United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
BARRY A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.
Crissie Lee Kelesoma ("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 a period of disability and 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. 5. Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.
Plaintiff filed her application for disability benefits on December 6, 2010. (Tr. 17). In her application, Plaintiff claims to be disabled due to a ruptured disc in her back. (Tr. 186). At the administrative hearing in this matter, Plaintiff also alleged being disabled due to depression. (Tr. 41, 67). In her application, Plaintiff alleged an onset date of October 14, 2010. (Tr. 17, 155). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 89-90).
Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 34-88). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on September 8, 2011 in Texarkana, Arkansas. Id. Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel at this hearing. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert ("VE") Mr. Balden testified at this hearing. Id. At this hearing Plaintiff testified she was thirty-eight (38) years old, which is defined as a "younger person" under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (2008) (DIB). (Tr. 40). As for her level of education, the ALJ noted at this hearing that Plaintiff had also received her high school diploma. (Tr. 78).
After this hearing, on November 17, 2011, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for DIB. (Tr. 14-30). In this decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2015. (Tr. 19, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity ("SGA") since October 14, 2010, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 19, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: disorders of the back and obesity. (Tr. 19-21, Finding 3). However, 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. 21-22, Finding 4).
In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her Residual Functional Capacity ("RFC"). (Tr. 22-28, Finding 5). 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:
I find that the claimant has the physical residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b). She can lift/carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. Claimant can sit, stand/walk for about six hours in an eight-hour workday. Claimant is not limited to pushing or pulling (including the operation of foot and/or hand controls) with the upper and lower extremities. Claimant can do occasional climbing, balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling. Claimant has no manipulative, visual, communicative, or environmental limitations. She is not severely limited by her psychological problems.
The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work ("PRW"). (Tr. 28-30, Finding 6). Considering her RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform her PRW as a manager of a mental health home (light, skilled). Id. In the alternative, even if Plaintiff could not perform her PRW, the ALJ also determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the following occupations: (1) eyeglass frame packager (sedentary, unskilled) with 800 such jobs in the region and 8, 000 such jobs in the nation; (2) lens inspector (sedentary, unskilled) with 600 such jobs in the region and 6, 000 such jobs in the nation; and (3) film inspector (sedentary, unskilled) with 1, 200 such jobs in the region and 12, 000 such jobs in the nation. (Tr. 29). Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform her PRW and this other work, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was not disabled, as defined in the Social Security Act, before or after October 14, 2010 through November 16, 2011 (ALJ's decision date). (Tr. 30, Finding 7).
Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the ALJ's unfavorable decision. (Tr. 13). On January 8, 2013, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 7-9). Thereafter, on September 25, 2013, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on October 2, 2013. ECF No. 5. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 10-11. Plaintiff has also filed a reply brief. ECF No. 12. This case is now ready for decision.
2. Applicable Law:
In reviewing this case, this Court is required to determine whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2006); Ramirez v. Barnhart, 292 F.3d 576, 583 (8th Cir. 2002). Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance of the evidence, but it is enough that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the Commissioner's decision. See Johnson v. Apfel, 240 F.3d 1145, 1147 (8th Cir. 2001). As long as there is substantial evidence in the record that supports the Commissioner's decision, the Court may not reverse it simply because substantial evidence exists in the record that would have supported a contrary outcome or because the Court would have decided the case differently. See Haley v. Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747 (8th Cir. 2001). If, after reviewing the record, it is possible to draw two inconsistent positions from the evidence and one of those positions represents the findings of the ALJ, the decision of the ALJ must be affirmed. See Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065, 1068 (8th Cir. 2000).
It is well-established that a claimant for Social Security disability benefits has the burden of proving his or her disability by establishing a physical or mental disability that lasted at least one year and that prevents him or her from engaging in any substantial gainful activity. See Cox v. Apfel, 160 F.3d 1203, 1206 (8th Cir. 1998); 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). The Act defines a "physical or mental impairment" as "an impairment that results from anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities which are demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques." 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(3), ...