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Clark v. Colvin

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

April 23, 2015

BECKY CLARK, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

BARRY A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.

Becky Clark ("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 a 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:

Plaintiff protectively filed her disability application on November 14, 2011. (Tr. 28). In her application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to diabetes, residuals from a stroke, shoulder pain, depression, carpal tunnel syndrome, and heart problems. (Tr. 117). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of March 9, 2010. (Tr. 28). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 123-125).

Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 134-144). On February 8, 2013, the ALJ held this administrative hearing. (Tr. 84-122). This hearing was held in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Id. Plaintiff was present and was represented by Fred Caddell at this hearing. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert ("VE") Donna Humphries testified at this hearing. Id.

After this hearing, on February 8, 2013, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for DIB. (Tr. 25-37). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act on June 30, 2012. (Tr. 30, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity ("SGA") from her alleged onset date of March 9, 2010 through her date last insured of June 30, 2012. (Tr. 30, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments through her date last insured: insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, cerebral vascular accident ("CVA"), a bilateral shoulder surgery, pain in her left leg, pain in her knees, medication side effects, gastroesophageal reflux disease ("GERD"), fibromyalgia, and depression. (Tr. 30, Finding 3). However, 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. 30-32, Finding 4).

The ALJ determined Plaintiff was fifty-three (53) years old, which is defined as a "person closely approaching advanced age" under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(d) (2008). (Tr. 35, Finding 7). As far as her education, the ALJ also determined Plaintiff had at least a high school education and was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 36, Finding 8).

In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 32-35, 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 RFC to perform the following:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that, through the date last insured, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except she could occasionally reach (including overhead reach) on a bilateral basis. She could operate foot controls frequently on the left. She must avoid even moderate exposure to hazardous machinery. She was able to perform work where interpersonal contact is incidental to the work performed; the complexity of tasks is learned and performed by rote, with few variables and little judgment; and the supervision required is simple, direct, and concrete. Due to the side effects of medication in combination with medical conditions and mental impairments, she would have one (1) unexcused/unscheduled absence per month on a consistent basis.

Id.

The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work ("PRW") and found Plaintiff had no PRW she could perform. (Tr. 35, Finding 6). The ALJ then determined whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 36-37, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id. Considering her age, education, work experience, and RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the following representative occupation: machine tender with 1, 500 such jobs in Arkansas and 75, 000 such jobs in the national economy. (Tr. 36). Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this other work, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined in the Act, from her amended alleged onset date of March 9, 2010 through her date last insured of June 30, 2012. (Tr. 37, Finding 11).

Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the ALJ's unfavorable decision. (Tr. 23). On June 4, 2014, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-3). Plaintiff then filed the present appeal on July 3, 2014. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction ...


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