United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Murphy (“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”) and Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”) 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. 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 and SSI was filed on July 31, 2012. (Tr.
25, 202-214). Plaintiff alleged she was disabled due to high
blood pressure, carpal tunnel, diabetic neuropathy, and
depression. (Tr. 248). Plaintiff alleged an onset date of
July 25, 2012. (Tr. 25, 248). These applications were denied
initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 25, 140-146,
151-155). Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative
hearing on her applications and this hearing request was
granted. (Tr. 156-157).
administrative hearing was held on November 13, 2013. (Tr.
45-81). Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel,
Greg Giles, at this hearing. Id. Plaintiff and
Vocational Expert (“VE”) William Weber, testified
at the hearing. Id. At the time of this hearing,
Plaintiff was thirty-nine (39) years old, had graduated from
high school and completed two years of college. (Tr. 48-49).
27, 2014, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying
Plaintiff’s application for DIB and SSI. (Tr. 25-40).
In this decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff met the
insured status requirements of the Act through December 31,
2016. (Tr. 27, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff
had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since July 25, 2012. (Tr. 27, Finding 2).
also determined Plaintiff had the severe impairments of
diabetes mellitus; diabetic neuropathy; major depressive
disorder; pain disorder; and obesity. (Tr. 28, 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. 28, Finding
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff’s subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 31-38). 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 the RFC to perform light work; not limited
in pushing or pulling with the upper and lower extremities;
no postural, manipulative, visual, communicative, or
environmental limitations; retains the ability to learn,
understand, remember, and carry out simple instructions and
tasks; use judgment in making work-related decisions; respond
and relate appropriately with other, such as supervisor and
co-workers; maintain attention and concentration for at least
two-hour intervals; and adapt to and deal with simple changes
in work setting and environments. (Tr. 31, Finding 5).
evaluated Plaintiff’s Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 38, Finding 6). The ALJ found
Plaintiff was unable to perform her PRW. Id. The
ALJ, however, also determined there was other work existing
in significant numbers in the national economy Plaintiff
could perform. (Tr. 39, Finding 10). The ALJ based his
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 a cashier with
approximately 2, 200 such jobs in the region and 28, 000 such
jobs in the nation, ticket printer with approximately 800
such jobs in the region and 14, 000 such jobs in the nation,
and as a mail clerk with approximately 1, 100 such jobs in
the region and 18, 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 July 25,
2012 through the date of the decision. (Tr. 40, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council review the
ALJ’s decision. (Tr. 21). See 20 C.F.R. §
404.968. The Appeals Council declined to review this
unfavorable decision. (Tr. 1-5). On September 24, 2015,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties
consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on September 24,
2015. ECF No. 5. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF
Nos. 8, 9. 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. ...