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Jones v. Colvin

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

April 8, 2015

TERRINE JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

BARRY A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.

Terrine Jones ("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 Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"), Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB"), and a period of disability 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:

On June 10, 2011, Plaintiff protectively filed her disability applications. (Tr. 16, 146-158). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to a fused spine, bulging discs, and degenerative disc disease. (Tr. 189). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of March 1, 2011. (Tr. 16). Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 146-158).

Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her applications. (Tr. 87-88). This hearing request was granted, and an administrative hearing was held on September 26, 2012 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. (Tr. 34-60). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by John Duty. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert ("VE") Floyd John Massey testified at this hearing. Id.

On January 18, 2013, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications for disability benefits. (Tr. 13-28). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through June 30, 2016. (Tr. 18, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity ("SGA") since March 1, 2011, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 18, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease, degenerative joint disease, scoliosis, Harrington rod T2-L2, bulging discs, anxiety, and depression. (Tr. 18-20, 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. 20-22, Finding 4).

In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 13-28). 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 light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except the claimant can frequently climb ramps and stairs but can only occasionally climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; the claimant can frequently balance, occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; the claimant is able to perform work where interpersonal contact is incidental to the work performed, where the complexity of tasks is learned and performed by rote with view [few] variables, where little judgment is required; and where the supervision required is simple, direct, and concrete.

Id.

The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work ("PRW"). (Tr. 28, Finding 6). Considering her RFC and "the physical and mental demands" of her PRW, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform her PRW as a production worker (riveting machine operator), packaging machine operator, and production worker (furniture). Id. Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform her PRW, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from March 1, 2011 through the date of his decision or through June 18, 2013.[2] (Tr. 28, Finding 7).

Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the review of the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (Tr. 1-4). On May 28, 2014, Plaintiff filed her Complaint in this matter. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on June 25, 2014. ECF No. 8. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 10-11. 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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