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Morrison v. Colvin

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

March 5, 2015

DENISE J. MORRISON, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

BARRY A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.

Denise J. Morrison ("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 Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and period of disability 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. 6.[1] Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.

1. Background:

This case was previously remanded by this Court. See Morrison v. Astrue, 6:10-cv-06021-BAB, ECF Nos. 9-10 (W.D. Ark. July 7, 2011). Plaintiff's case was remanded to give the ALJ the opportunity to comply with the requirements of Polaski. The background of Plaintiff's case is fully outlined in that Memorandum Opinion and Judgment. As stated in the Memorandum Opinion, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to "muscle disease, " "metabolic myopathy, " hypertension, and osteoarthritis. (Tr. 116). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of October 30, 2006. (Tr. 8).

After this remand, a second administrative was held in Hot Springs, Arkansas. (Tr. 378-394). This hearing was held on March 1, 2012. Id. Plaintiff was present at this hearing and was represented by Charles Padgham. Id. Only Plaintiff testified at this hearing. Id.

On April 26, 2012, the ALJ again entered an unfavorable decision. (Tr. 357-372). In this decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2012. (Tr. 362, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity ("SGA") since October 30, 2006, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 363, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: metabolic myopathy, fibromyalgia, elevated creatine phosphokinase, and essential hypertension. (Tr. 363-365, Finding 3). 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. 366, Finding 4).

In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 366-371, 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 capacity 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 full range of medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c). The claimant does not have a severe mental impairment.

Id.

The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work ("PRW") and found she was capable of performing her PRW as an aircraft scriber (semiskilled, light) and veterinary technician (skilled, medium). (Tr. 372, Finding 6). The ALJ based this determination upon VE's testimony related to Plaintiff's PRW and the ALJ's assessment of Plaintiff's RFC. Id. Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform her PRW, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined in the Act, at any time from October 30, 2006 through the date of his decision or through April 26, 2012. (Tr. 372, Finding 7).

Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the review of the Appeals Council. (Tr. 356). The Appeals Council declined to assume jurisdiction of Plaintiff's case. (Tr. 351-355). On March 6, 2014, Plaintiff filed her Complaint in this matter. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on March 25, 2014. ECF No. 6. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 8-9. 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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