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Townsend v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division

March 13, 2015

TINA TOWNSEND, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

BARRY A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.

Tina Townsend ("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 XVI of the Act.

Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and (3) (2009), the Honorable P. K. Holmes, III referred this case to this Court for the purpose of making a report and recommendation. In accordance with that referral, and after reviewing the arguments in this case, this Court recommends Plaintiff's case be AFFIRMED.

1. Background:

Plaintiff protectively filed her disability application on October 19, 2011. (Tr. 11). In her application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to nerve problems, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, and asthma. (Tr. 172). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of January 1, 2008. (Tr. 11). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 115).

Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 72-82). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on October 10, 2012 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. (Tr. 29-48). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Aaron Forshaw. Id. Only Plaintiff testified at this hearing. Id. During this hearing, Plaintiff testified she was forty-seven (47) years old, which is defined as a "younger person" under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c) (2008). (Tr. 32). As for her education, Plaintiff testified she had completed the eleventh grade in school and had not obtained her GED. Id.

On February 22, 2013, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 7-20). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity ("SGA") since October 19, 2011, her application date. (Tr. 13, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: osteoarthritis, remote ankle fracture, and mood disorder. (Tr. 13, Finding 2). Despite being severe, the ALJ determined those 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. 13-15, Finding 3).

In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 15-18, 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, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except as follows: The claimant can understand, remember, and carry out simple, routine, repetitive tasks. She can respond to usual work situations and routine work changes. She can respond to supervision that is simple, direct, and concrete. She can occasionally interact with supervisors, co-workers, and the public.

Id.

The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work ("PRW"). (Tr. 18, Finding 5). Considering her RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform her PRW as a poultry eviscerator (light, unskilled) as she performed the work and as it is normally performed. Id. The ALJ then determined whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 19-20). To determine whether Plaintiff retained this capacity, the ALJ sent written interrogatories to Vocational Expert ("VE") Dale Thomas. Id.

Considering Plaintiff's PRW, education, age, and RFC, the VE stated a hypothetical person with those limitations retained the capacity to perform the following occupations: (1) bench assembler with 125, 000 such jobs in the United States; and (2) Laundry Worker with 293, 000 such jobs in the United States. Id. Based upon the VE's responses, the ALJ determined Plaintiff did retain the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 19-20, Finding 9). Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this other work, the ALJ also determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from her application date of October 19, 2011 through the date of the ALJ's decision or through February 22, 2013. (Tr. 20, Finding 10).

Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the ALJ's unfavorable decision. (Tr. 5). On January 23, 2014, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 5). On March 17, 2014, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have ...


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