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Grantt v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division

August 8, 2016

CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT



         Mattie Mae Grantt (“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.

         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 for DIB on November 28, 2012, and for SSI on January 10, 2013. (Tr. 7). In her applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to migraine headaches, diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, carpel tunnel syndrome, and H. Pylori virus. (Tr. 215). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of November 16, 2012. (Tr. 211). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 114, 125).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 130, 140). Plaintiff’s administrative hearing was held on February 10, 2014 in El Dorado, Arkansas. (Tr. 27-63). Plaintiff was present and was represented by James Reid. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Donna Humphries testified at this hearing. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff testified she was sixty (60) years old, which is defined as a “person of advanced age” under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(e) (SSI) and 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(e) (DIB). (Tr. 32). As for her level of education, Plaintiff reported she completed four (4) or more years of college and is a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). (Tr. 216).

         After this hearing, on August 25, 2014, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff’s applications for DIB and SSI. (Tr. 7-21). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2017. (Tr. 12, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since November 16, 2012, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 12, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: diabetes mellitus, lumbar spinal stenosis, peripheral neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraine headaches, and hypertension. (Tr. 12-13, Finding 3). Despite being severe, the ALJ determined these 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. 14-15, Finding 4).

         The ALJ then considered Plaintiff’s Residual Functional Capacity (“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 RFC to perform:

sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) except that she requires being able to sit for six hours, with an opportunity to stand every one or two hours in an eight-hour workday. The claimant can occasionally climb, stoop, crouch, kneel, or crawl, and can perform frequent reaching and handling.


         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff’s Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 19, Finding 6). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. (Tr. 44-45). Based upon the testimony and considering Plaintiff’s RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was unable to perform any past relevant work. (Tr. 19, Finding 6). Based on Plaintiff’s age, education, work experience, and RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff acquired work skills from past relevant work that are transferable to other occupations with jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy, such as a triage or telephonic nurse, which has a DOT code of 205.162-010, and is sedentary work with an SVP of seven (7) with one hundred seventy-five thousand (175, 000) jobs in the national economy, and one thousand three hundred (1, 300) jobs in Arkansas. Because jobs exist in significant numbers in the national economy which Plaintiff can perform, the ALJ also determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from November 16, 2012 through the date of his decision. (Tr. 21, Finding 11).

         Thereafter, September 5, 2014, Plaintiff requested a review by the Appeals Council. (Tr. 5-6). The Appeals Council denied this request on September 9, 2015. (Tr. 1-4). On November 4, 2015, Plaintiff filed the present appeal with this Court. (ECF No. 1). The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on November 19, 2015. (ECF No. 7). This case is now ready for decision.

         2. Applicable Law:

         In 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 ...

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