United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
HON. BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Socorro Cisneros Desoria (“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.
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. 5. Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.
Plaintiff protectively filed her current disability application on January 23, 2012. (Tr. 16, 181-189). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to diabetes, side effects from exposure to dry ice, high blood pressure, and panic attacks. (Tr. 199). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 60-61).
Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 72-77, 141-145). This hearing was held on February 25, 2014 in Texarkana, Arkansas. (Tr. 38-53). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Greg Giles. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Suzanne Skinner testified at this hearing. Id. During this hearing, Plaintiff testified she was fifty-seven (57) years old, which is defined as a “person of advanced age” under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(e) (2008). (Tr. 42-43). As for her education level, Plaintiff testified the highest grade of school she had completed was at the elementary level. (Tr. 43). She also testified she was a legal resident of the United States, and she was unable to read, write, and speak in English. Id.
On March 20, 2014, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff’s application. (Tr. 16-30). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since January 23, 2012, her application date. (Tr. 18, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: gastroesophageal reflux disease; diabetes mellitus; vertigo; hypertension; arthritis; neuropathy; and obesity. (Tr. 18-20, Finding 2). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff’s impairment 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, Finding 3).
In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff’s subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 20-28, 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 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 medium work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(c), meaning the claimant can occasionally lift/carry 50 pounds, frequently lift/carry 25 pounds, stand and/or walk for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday, and sit for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday, except that the claimant can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, and she must avoid exposure to hazardous, moving machinery and unprotected heights.
The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff’s Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 28-30, Finding 5). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id. Based upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity of performing her PRW as a hand packager and poultry eviscerater. Id. Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform her PRW, the ALJ determined she had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from January 23, 2012 (application date) through March 20, 2014 (ALJ’s decision date). (Tr. 30, Finding 6).
Thereafter, on April 10, 2014, Plaintiff requested the review of the Appeals Council. (Tr. 37). On May 23, 2015, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-3). Plaintiff then filed her Complaint in this case on June 23, 2015. ECF No. 1. 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 ...