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Herring v. Colvin

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

January 12, 2015

DEBRA HERRING, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, [1] Commissioner Social Security Administration, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

MARK E. FORD, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Debra Herring, brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of a decision of the Commissioner of Social Security Administration (Commissioner) denying her claim for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (hereinafter "the Act"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). In this judicial review, the court must determine whether there is substantial evidence in the administrative record to support the Commissioner's decision. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

I. Procedural Background

Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI on August 21, 2007. (Tr. 12.) Plaintiff alleged an onset date of August 19, 2007 due to knee surgery, shoulder surgery, and hysterectomy. (Tr. 144-52.) In a later disability report, Plaintiff additionally alleged chronic pain and fibromyalgia. (Tr. 69.) Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing, which was held on May 13, 2009 in front of Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Robert Neighbors. Plaintiff was present to testify and was represented by counsel. The ALJ also heard testimony from Vocational Expert ("VE") David Elmore, and Rose Wilhide, Witness for Plaintiff. (Tr. 369.)

At the time of the administrative hearing, Plaintiff was 44 years old, and possessed a high school diploma, with one year vocational technical college and bank teller training. (Tr. 373.) The Plaintiff had no past relevant work experience ("PRW"). (Tr. 18.)

On September 24, 2009, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff suffered from the following severe impairments: shoulder pain, back disorder, and osteoarthritis. (Tr. 14.) The ALJ found that Plaintiff maintained the residual functional capacity to perform light work, "except she can stand up to six hours in an eight hour work day, and can sit for up to six hours in a work day, and cannot perform work requiring overhead reaching." (Tr. 15-16.) With the assistance of the VE, the ALJ determined that the Plaintiff could perform the representative occupation of general office clerk. (Tr. 19.)

Plaintiff requested a review by the Appeals Council on October 7, 2009. (Tr. 8.) The Appeals Council declined review on July 30, 2010. (Tr. 4.) Plainitff filed an appeal on August 27, 2010. (Civ. No. 10-2127, ECF. No. 1.)

The Honorable James R. Marschewski remanded the case on September 2, 2011. On remand, the ALJ was directed to "more fully develop the record concerning Dr. Walker's diagnosis of a herniated disc, to obtain a RFC from the plaintiff's treating physician and to obtain a mental RFC." (Civ. No. 10-2127, ECF. No. 16.)

In her post-remand Disability Report, Plaintiff further alleged breast cancer, high blood pressure, seizures, and Hepatitis C. (Tr. 470, 485.) A second hearing was held on May 24, 2012 in front of ALJ Kevin Alexander. Plaintiff was present to testify and was represented by counsel. The ALJ also heard testimony from VE Myrtle M. Johnson. (Tr. 762.) At the time of the second administrative hearing, Plaintiff was 47 years old. (Tr. 764.)

On August 8, 2012, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff suffered from the following severe impairments:

degenerative disc disease of the cervical and lumbar spine; shoulder pain status post left shoulder rotator cuff repair and right shoulder arthroscopy and subacromial decompression distal clavicle excision; left knee pain status post anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction; breast cancer status post lumpectomy of the left breast; major depressive disorder; dementia due to multiple head trauma; panic disorder with agoraphobia; and generalized anxiety disorder.

(Tr. 410-11.) The ALJ found that Plaintiff maintained the residual functional capacity to perform light work, except:

she would be limited to jobs that do not required [sic] climbing of ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, nor exposures to hazards. All remaining postural and handling requirements would be performed no more than frequently. Finally, the claimant will be limited to unskilled work where interpersonal contact was incidental to work performed; complexity of one or two step tasks was learned and performed by rote, few variables and little judgment required; supervision required was simple, direct and concrete; and limited to an SVP of one or two with jobs that can be learned within thirty days.

(Tr. 413.) With the assistance of the VE, the ALJ determined that the Plaintiff could perform such representative occupations as delivery driver courier, mail ...


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