United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Smith (“Plaintiff”) brings this action pursuant
to § 205(g) of Title II of the Social Security Act
(“The Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2006),
seeking judicial review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) denying her application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) 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. 5. Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
application for DIB was filed on April 18, 2013. (Tr. 40,
173-176). Plaintiff alleged she was disabled due to bad knees
and depression. (Tr. 196). Plaintiff alleged an onset date of
March 27, 2013. (Tr. 40). This application was denied
initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 40, 141-143,
148-149). Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative
hearing on her application and this hearing request was
granted. (Tr. 151).
‘s administrative hearing was held on July 29, 2014.
(Tr. 80-113). Plaintiff was present and was represented by
counsel, Greg Giles, at this hearing. Id. Plaintiff
and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Susan Johnson
testified at this hearing. Id. At the time of this
hearing, Plaintiff was fifty-one (51) years old and had a
high school education. (Tr. 83).
August 27, 2014, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff’s application for DIB. (Tr. 40-75).
In this decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff met the
insured status requirements of the Act through December 31,
2018. (Tr. 42, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had
not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since her alleged onset date of March 27,
2013. (Tr. 43, Finding 2).
also determined Plaintiff had the severe impairments of
morbid obesity, residuals status post Lap-Band surgery,
residuals status post left knee replacement surgery,
degenerative joint disease of the right knee, anxiety
disorder, and a major depressive disorder. (Tr. 44, Finding
3). The ALJ then determined Plaintiff’s impairments did
not meet or medically equal the requirements of any of the
Listing of Impairments in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of
Regulations No. 4 (“Listings”). (Tr. 57, Finding
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff’s subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 60-70). First, the
ALJ indicated he evaluated Plaintiff’s subjective
complaints and found her claimed limitations were not
entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff retained an RFC for a restricted range of sedentary
work. (Tr. 60-61, Finding 5).
evaluated Plaintiff’s Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 70, Finding 6). The ALJ found
Plaintiff was unable to perform her PRW. Id. The ALJ
however determined there was other work existing in
significant numbers in the national economy Plaintiff could
perform. (Tr. 72, Finding 10). The VE testified at the
administrative hearing regarding this issue. (Tr. 44-46).
Based upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff
retained the ability to perform other work such as
information clerk with 18, 000 such jobs in Arkansas and 966,
000 such jobs in the nation and sorter with 1, 900 such jobs
in Arkansas and 48, 000 such jobs in the nation. (Tr. 74).
Given this, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a
disability as defined in the Act from March 27, 2013 through
the date of the decision. (Tr. 74, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council review the
ALJ’s decision. (Tr. 36). See 20 C.F.R. §
404.968. The Appeals Council declined to review this
unfavorable decision. (Tr. 1-13). On August 31, 2015,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties
consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on September 1,
2015. ECF No. 5. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF
Nos. 10, 13. 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 plaintiff must show that his or her
disability, not simply his or her impairment, has lasted for
at least twelve consecutive months. See 42 U.S.C.
determine whether the adult claimant suffers from a
disability, the Commissioner uses the familiar five-step
sequential evaluation. He determines: (1) whether the
claimant is presently engaged in a “substantial gainful
activity”; (2) whether the claimant has a severe
impairment that significantly limits the claimant’s
physical or mental ability to perform basic work activities;
(3) whether the claimant has an impairment that meets or
equals a presumptively disabling impairment listed in the
regulations (if so, the claimant is disabled without regard
to age, education, and work experience); (4) whether the
claimant has the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to
perform his or her past relevant work; and (5) if the
claimant cannot perform the past work, the burden shifts to
the Commissioner to prove that there are other jobs in the
national economy that the claimant can perform. See
Cox, 160 F.3d at 1206; 20 C.F.R. ...