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Brown v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

December 22, 2014

MARLA BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

BARRY A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.

Marla Brown ("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 Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") 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.[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 SSI application on January 11, 2010. (Tr. 11, 192-195). Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to the following: bipolar disorder, arthritis, and memory problems. (Tr. 217). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of September 30, 2007. (Tr. 11, 192). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 63-64).

Thereafter, on July 21, 2010, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her application. (Tr. 78-79). This hearing request was granted. (Tr. 88). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on March 10, 2011. (Tr. 58-62). At this hearing, the ALJ determined he had not received all of Plaintiff's medical records, and he then scheduled a second hearing. Id.

Plaintiff's second administrative hearing was held on August 29, 2012 in Texarkana, Arkansas. (Tr. 29-57). Plaintiff was present at this hearing and was represented by Greg Giles. Id. Plaintiff, Vocational Expert ("VE") Ms. Pomerov, Medical Expert ("ME1") Dr. Murphy, and Medical Expert ("ME2") Dr. Smith testified at this hearing.[2] Id. During this hearing, Plaintiff testified she was fifty (50) years old, which is defined as a "person closely approaching advanced age" under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(d) (2008). (Tr. 37). Plaintiff also testified she had only completed the eleventh grade in high school but had obtained a CNA license. Id.

On September 15, 2012, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for SSI. (Tr. 8-21). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity ("SGA") since January 11, 2010, her application date. (Tr. 13, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: obesity, a history of renal insufficiency and renal disease, hypothyroidism, status post pacemaker, diabetes mellitus, and an affective disorder. (Tr. 13, Finding 2). The ALJ 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. 13-14, Finding 3).

In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 14-19, Finding 4). 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 the following as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b): from the alleged onset date to June, 2011, the claimant could perform medium exertion lifting 50 lbs occasionally and 25 lbs frequently, and from June, 2011 to the present, the claimant could perform light exertion lifting 20 lbs occasionally and 10 lbs frequently. The claimant could stand/walk for up to six hours a day, sit six hours per day respectively, and could understand simple and detailed instructions and tasks and can [have] incidental contact with the public.

Id.

The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work ("PRW") and determined Plaintiff was unable to perform any of her PRW. (Tr. 19, Finding 5). The ALJ then determined whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 20-21, Finding 9). The VE testified at the administrative hearing on August 29, 2012 regarding this issue. Id. Based upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retains the capacity to perform work as a the following: (1) marker (light, unskilled) with 100, 000 such jobs in the United States, 1, 000 in Texas, and 700 in Arkansas; (2) shirt presser (light, unskilled) with 660, 000 such jobs in the United States, 1, 100 in Texas, and 700 in Arkansas; and (3) garment sorter (unskilled) with 160, 000 such jobs in the United States, 2, 000 in Texas, and 700 in Arkansas. (Tr. 20). Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this other work, the ALJ determined she was not disabled from her alleged onset date of January 11, 2010 (date her application was filed) through the date of the ALJ's decision or through September 15, 2012. (Tr. 21, Finding 10).

Thereafter, on September 28, 2012, Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the ALJ's unfavorable decision. (Tr. 28). On October 1, 2013, the Appeals Council declined to review this unfavorable decision. (Tr. 1-3). On October 22, 2013, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on October 22, 2013. ECF No. 5. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 11-12. 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) (2010); 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 ...


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