United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Toye (“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 Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”), Supplemental Security
Income (“SSI”), and a period of disability.
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.
protectively filed her disability applications on October 17,
2012. (Tr. 13, 147-157). In these applications, Plaintiff
alleges being disabled due to degenerative disc disease and
spinal stenosis in three vertebrae. (Tr. 212). These
applications were denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 47-66).
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied
applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr.
100-113). This hearing was held on August 28, 2013 in Fort
Smith, Arkansas. (Tr. 27-46). At this hearing, Plaintiff was
present and was represented by Jack Willems. Id.
Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Patti Kent
testified at this hearing. Id. At this hearing,
Plaintiff testified she was thirty-one (31) 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 testified she had
completed college and completed vocational school and was
trained as a massage therapist. (Tr. 32).
2, 2014, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a
fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's
applications. (Tr. 10-20). The ALJ found Plaintiff met the
insured status requirements of the Act through September 30,
2014. (Tr. 15, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not
engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”)
since August 7, 2012, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 15,
Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff suffered from the
following severe impairments: degenerative disc
disease/curvature of her spine, headaches, and hypertension.
(Tr. 15-16, 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.16, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 16-19, 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 capacity to perform the light work:
(b) Light work. Light work involves lifting no more than 20
pounds at a time with frequent lifting or carrying of objects
weighing up to 10 pounds. Even when the weight lifted may be
very little, a job is in this category when it requires a
good deal of walking or standing, or when it involves sitting
most of the time with some pushing and pulling of arm or leg
controls. To be considered capable of performing a full or
wide range of light work, you must have the ability to do
substantially all of these activities. If someone can do
light work, we determine that he or she can also do sedentary
work, unless there are additional limiting factors such as
loss of fine dexterity or inability to sit for long periods
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 19-20, Finding 6). The ALJ
determined Plaintiff's PRW included work as a
receptionist, license clerk, and cashier. Id.
Considering her RFC, the ALJ found Plaintiff retained the
capacity to perform all of her PRW. Id. Because
Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform her PRW, the ALJ
determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as
defined by the Act, from August 7, 2012 (application date)
through May 2, 2014 (ALJ's decision date). Id.
sought review with the Appeals Council. (Tr. 8-9).
Thereafter, on July 29, 2015, the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review. (Tr. 1-3). On September
30, 2015, Plaintiff filed her Complaint in this case. ECF No.
1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs and have consented
to the jurisdiction of this Court. ECF Nos. 9, 12. 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) (2010); 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 ...