United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Gahagan (“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”) and Disability Insurance
Benefits (“DIB”) under Titles II and XVI of 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.
protectively filed her disability applications on November 4,
2010. (Tr. 30). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges
being disabled due to liver cirrhosis, diabetes, left arm
surgery, asthma, and sleep apnea. (Tr. 189). These
applications were denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 80-83).
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied
applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr.
40-79). This hearing was held on October 27, 2011 in Fort
Smith, Arkansas. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff was
present and was represented by Susan Brock. Id.
Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) James
Brackens testified at this hearing. Id.
18, 2012, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a
fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff’s
applications. (Tr. 7-20). The ALJ found Plaintiff met the
insured status requirements of the Act through December 31,
2015. (Tr. 12, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not
engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”)
since July 22, 2012, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 12, Finding
2). The ALJ found Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; status
post ulnar nerve transposition for cubital tunnel syndrome;
obesity; diabetes mellitus; essential hypertension; chronic
post-traumatic stress disorder; depression secondary to a
medical condition (pain); and dependent traits. Id.
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. 13-15,
determined in this opinion that Plaintiff was forty-five (45)
years old, which is defined as a “younger person”
under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) and 20 C.F.R. §
416.963(c). (Tr. 19, Finding 7). As for her education level,
Plaintiff had “at least a high school education”
and was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 19, Finding 8).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff’s subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 15-19, 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 light work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except she frequently is able
to use her left upper extremity. She must avoid concentrated
exposure to fumes, odors, dust, gases, poor ventilation and
similar environments and had no exposure to extreme heat.
Nonexertionally, the claimant is able to perform work limited
to simple, routine, and repetitive tasks, involving only
simple, work-related decisions, with few, if any, work place
changes, no more than incidental contact with co-workers,
supervisors, and the general public.
evaluated Plaintiff’s Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”), and the ALJ determined Plaintiff did not
retain the capacity to perform her PRW. (Tr. 19-20, Finding
6). The ALJ then considered whether Plaintiff retained the
capacity to perform other occupations existing in significant
numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 19-20, Finding 10). The
VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this
issue. Id. Based upon that testimony, the ALJ
determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the
following light, unskilled occupations: (1) poultry
production eviscerator or deboner with 596, 000 such jobs in
the nation and 15, 000 such jobs in the state; and (2)
production line assembler with 583, 000 such jobs in the
nation and 11, 000 such jobs in the state. Id. Based
upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been
under a disability, as defined by the Act, from her alleged
onset date through the date of the ALJ’s decision.
on May 29, 2012, Plaintiff requested the review of the
Appeals Council. (Tr. 5). On March 7, 2013, the Appeals
Council denied this request. (Tr. 1-3). Plaintiff then
appealed her case to U.S. District Court for the Western
District of Arkansas. (Tr. 513-522). Upon review of
Plaintiff’s case, this Court recommended
Plaintiff’s case be reversed and remanded for further
consideration of her subjective complaints pursuant to
Polaski. Id. This recommendation was
adopted, and Plaintiff’s case was reversed and remanded
to the SSA. Id.
then held a second administrative hearing in
Plaintiff’s case on August 1, 2014 in Fort Smith,
Arkansas. (Tr. 450-485). Plaintiff was represented by
counsel, Susan Brockett. Id. Plaintiff and
Vocational Expert (“VE”) Jim Spragins testified
at this hearing. Id. ...