United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Jefferson (“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.Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
protectively filed her DIB and SSI applications on October
19, 2009. (Tr. 11, 200-212). Plaintiff alleges being disabled
due to muscle spasms in back, knee and shoulder problems,
arthritis, numbness in fingers, and blood pressure. (Tr.
245). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of September 11, 2011.
(Tr. 11, 200, 207). These applications were denied initially
and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 11). Thereafter,
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her
applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr.
144). Plaintiff's hearing was held on June 2, 2014. (Tr.
58-82). Plaintiff was present at this hearing and was
represented by counsel. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational
Expert (“VE”) Mack Welch testified at this
hearing. Id. During this hearing, Plaintiff
testified she was fifty-two (52) years old and had a ninth
grade education but also obtained her GED. (Tr. 63).
October 17, 2014, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff's applications for DIB and SSI. (Tr.
11-26). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the
insured status requirements of the Act through September 30,
2014. (Tr. 13, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff
had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since September 7, 2011, her alleged
onset date. (Tr. 13, Finding 2).
determined Plaintiff has the following severe impairments:
obesity, arthritis, hypertension, shoulder problems, muscle
spasms in her back, congestive heart failure, and
degenerative joint disease in her hands and knees. (Tr. 13,
Finding 3). The ALJ also determined, however, that
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. 14, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 15-25, 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 the following:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform the full range of light work
as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b).
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”), and the ALJ found Plaintiff would be
unable to perform any of her PRW. (Tr. 25, Finding 6). The
ALJ then evaluated whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to
perform other work existing in significant numbers in the
national economy. (Tr. 25, Finding 10). In making this
determination, the ALJ applied the Medical-Vocational
Guidelines or “The Grids.” Id.
Specifically, the ALJ applied Rule 202.17 and 202.10 of the
Grids. Id. These rules directed a result of
“not disabled.” Id. Accordingly, the ALJ
found Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined
by the Act, at any time from her alleged onset date of
September 7, 2011 through date of the ALJ's decision.
(Tr. 26, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeal Council's review of the
ALJ's unfavorable decision, and, on October 5, 2015, the
Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-4). On
November 20, 2015, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF
No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this
Court on December 17, 2015. ECF No. 7. Both Parties have
filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 11, 12. This case is now ready
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 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