United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division
JOYCE M. THOMPSON PLAINTIFF
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
M. Thompson ("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 a period of
disability, Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB"),
and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under
Titles II and XVI of the Act.
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. 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 May 15,
2013. (Tr. 32, 216-223). In her applications, Plaintiff
alleges being disabled due to dementia, hypertension, and V
Willebrand disease. (Tr. 230). Plaintiff alleges an onset
date of May 13, 2013. (Tr. 32). These applications were
denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr.
157-175). Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative
hearing on her denied applications, and this hearing request
was granted. (Tr. 176-177).
administrative hearing was held on May 28, 2014. (Tr. 51-94).
Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Mary
Thomason, at this hearing. Id. Plaintiff, her
daughter Beverly Moore, and Vocational Expert
("VE") William Elmore testified at this hearing.
Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff testified she was
fifty-four (54) years old and graduated from high school.
(Tr. 64, 225).
this hearing, on November 24, 2014, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's DIB and SSI
applications. (Tr. 32-46). In this decision, the ALJ found
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act
through December 31, 2016. (Tr. 34, Finding 1). The ALJ
determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful
Activity ("SGA") since May 13, 2013, her alleged
onset date. (Tr. 34, Finding 2).
determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
hypertension (uncontrolled), Von Willebrand's Disease
(hemophilia), tremors, seizures, left renal mass, and
dementia. (Tr. 34, 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. 39, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ indicated he evaluated Plaintiff's
subjective complaints and determined her Residual Functional
Capacity ("RFC"). (Tr. 40-44, 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 medium work with limitations of can
occasionally stoop, crouch, crawl, bend, kneel, and balance;
cannot operate a motor vehicle, work from ladders, ropes, and
scaffolds, or work around unprotected moving machinery; and
limited to work which is simple, routine repetitive in nature
with supervision that is simple, direct, and concrete. (Tr.
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
("PRW") and found Plaintiff unable to perform any
PRW. (Tr. 44, Finding 6). The ALJ, however, also determined
there was other work existing in significant numbers in the
national economy Plaintiff could perform. (Tr. 45, Finding
10). The ALJ based this determination upon the testimony of
the VE. Id. Specifically, the VE testified that
given all Plaintiff's vocational factors, a hypothetical
individual would be able to perform the requirements of a
representative occupation such as hospital cleaner with 4,
000 such jobs in the state of Arkansas and 420, 000 such jobs
in the nation and packager with 1, 600 such jobs in the state
of Arkansas and 140, 000 such jobs in the nation.
Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff had not been under a disability as defined by the
Act from May 13, 2013, through the date of the decision. (Tr.
46, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's unfavorable decision. (Tr. 6). On July 29, 2015,
the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr.
1-4). Plaintiff then filed the present appeal on August 13,
2015. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of
this Court on August 17, 2015. ECF No. 7. This case is now
ready for decision.
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) (2006); 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 possible to draw two inconsistent
positions from the evidence and one of those positions
represents the findings of the ALJ, the decision of the ALJ
must be affirmed. See Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065,
1068 (8th Cir. 2000).
well-established that a claimant for Social Security
disability benefits has the burden of proving his or her
disability by establishing a physical or mental disability
that lasted at least one year and that prevents him or her
from engaging in any substantial gainful activity. See
Cox v. Apfel, 160 F.3d 1203, 1206 (8th Cir. 1998); 42
U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). The Act
defines a "physical or mental impairment" as
"an impairment that results from anatomical,
physiological, or psychological abnormalities which are
demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory
diagnostic techniques." 42 U.S.C. §§
423(d)(3), 1382(3)(c). A ...