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Williams v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

December 8, 2014

SHEILA WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

BARRY A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.

Sheila Williams ("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 applications for a period of disability, Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB"), and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Titles II and XVI 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. 8.[1] Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.

1. Background:

Plaintiff protectively filed her disability applications on May 18, 2011. (Tr. 14, 119-131). In her applications, Plaintiff claims to be disabled due to the following: nerve damage in her right arm and anxiety. (Tr. 146). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of February 1, 2011. (Tr. 14, 125). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 51-54).

Thereafter, on August 23, 2011, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 69-76). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on June 4, 2012 in Little Rock, Arkansas. (Tr. 28-50). Plaintiff was present at this hearing and was represented by Mr. Frantz[2]. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert ("VE") Elizabeth Clem testified at this hearing. Id.

After this hearing, on June 27, 2012, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications for DIB and SSI. (Tr. 11-22). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2015. (Tr. 16, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity ("SGA") since February 1, 2011, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 16, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: psoriasis, distal peripheral neuropathy, history of hypertension, depression, and anxiety with a panic disorder. (Tr. 16, 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. 16-18, Finding 4).

The ALJ determined Plaintiff had at least a high school education and was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 21, Finding 8). The ALJ determined Plaintiff was fifty (50) years old on her alleged disability onset date. (Tr. 21, Finding 7). This is defined as "an individual closely approaching advanced age" under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(d) (2008) (SSI) and 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(d) (2008) (DIB).

In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 18-21, 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:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform a range of light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b). She can lift and carry up to 20 pounds occasionally, 10 pounds frequently, and stand, sit or walk for six hours of an eight-hour workday. However, she should avoid ladders, ropes, scaffolds and exposure to hazards. She can perform unskilled work (work that can be learned in 30 days or less). Further, the work must not require more than occasional changes in the workplace setting.

Id.

The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work ("PRW"). (Tr. 21, Finding 6). The ALJ determined Plaintiff's PRW included work as a bereavement counselor, caseworker for the developmentally delayed, personal care aide, and social service director. Id. Considering her RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff did not retain the capacity to perform any of this PRW. Id.

The ALJ then determined whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 21-22, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id. Considering her age, education, work experience, and RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the following representative occupations: (1) house cleaner (light, unskilled) with 4, 500 such jobs in Arkansas and 500, 000 such jobs in the nation; (2) cafeteria attendant (light, unskilled) with 1, 900 such jobs in Arkansas and 400, 000 such jobs in the nation; and (3) hand packer (light, unskilled) with 2, 900 such jobs in Arkansas and 300, 000 such jobs in the nation. (Tr. 22). In accordance with the VE's testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from February 1, 2011 through the date of his decision or through June 27, 2012. (Tr. 22, Finding 11).

Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the ALJ's unfavorable decision. (Tr. 10). On September 10, 2013, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 3-6). Plaintiff then filed the present appeal on October 7, 2013. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on October 28, 2013. ECF No. 8. ...


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