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Fason v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

May 27, 2016

BRANDY FASON PLAINTIFF
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Brandy Fason (“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 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. 7.[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 applications on June 29, 2010. (Tr. 12). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to scoliosis of the spine, fibromyalgia, and back problems. (Tr. 157). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 72-75).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 28-71, 90-97). This hearing was held on December 7, 2011 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Sherri McDonough. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Mack Welch testified at this hearing. Id. During this hearing, Plaintiff testified she was thirty-two (32) 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. 32). As for her education level, Plaintiff obtained her GED and completed two years of college. Id.

         On May 22, 2012, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff’s applications. (Tr. 9-24). The ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2009. (Tr. 14, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since February 1, 2005, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 14, Finding 2). The ALJ found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: levo-scoliosis (curvature of the spine) with fibromyalgia. (Tr. 14, Finding 3). 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. 14-15, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff’s subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 15-22, 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 the full range of light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b).

Id.

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff’s Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 22-23, Finding 6). Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the following occupations: (1) cashier II (light, unskilled); (2) waitress (light, semi-skilled); and (3) hotel desk clerk (light, semiskilled). 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 or through May 22, 2012. (Tr. 23, Finding 7).

         Thereafter, on July 17, 2012, Plaintiff requested the review of the Appeals Council. (Tr. 5-6). On April 26, 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. 388-395). Upon review of Plaintiff’s case, this Court reversed and remanded Plaintiff’s case for further review of her treating physician’s findings. Id. After this remand, the SSA then held a second administrative hearing in Plaintiff’s case on February 10, 2015 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. (Tr. 326-381). At this second hearing, Plaintiff was again represented by Sherri McDonough. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Mac Welch testified at this hearing. Id.

         After this hearing, the ALJ again entered a fully unfavorable decision. (Tr. 308-321). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2009. (Tr. 313, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since February 1, 2005, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 313, Finding 2). The ALJ found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: nonprogressive scoliosis; discogenic disease at L1/2, L2/3, and L3/4; bilateral hallux valgus deformities; and right trochanteric bursitis. (Tr. 313-314, Finding 3). The ALJ also again found Plaintiff’s impairments did not meet or equal the requirements of the Listings. (Tr. 314-315, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ again evaluated Plaintiff’s subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 315-320, Finding 5). First, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff’s subjective complaints and found her claimed limitations were not entirely credible. Id. Second, ...


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