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Hale v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division

October 25, 2016

CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT



         Jeanette S. Hale (“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 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.[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 on March 17, 2010. (Tr. 10). In her applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to peripheral neuropathy and panic disorder. (Tr. 177). At the administrative hearing in this matter, Plaintiff also alleged being disabled due to facial pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia. (Tr. 36). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of March 31, 2008. (Tr. 10). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 49-52).

         After Plaintiff's applications were denied, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 66-74). Thereafter, on September 19, 2011, the ALJ held an administrative hearing on Plaintiff's applications. (Tr. 26-48). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Fred Cadell. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) John Massey testified at this hearing. Id. During this hearing, Plaintiff testified she was thirty-seven (37) years old, which is defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c) (2008) (SSI) and 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (2008) (DIB). (Tr. 29). As for her education, Plaintiff testified she had received her high school diploma and had completed some college. (Tr. 29).

         A. ALJ's First Administrative Decision

         On October 28, 2011, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications. (Tr. 7-20). The ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2013. (Tr. 12, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since March 31, 2008, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 12, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairment: peripheral neuropathy. (Tr. 12-13, 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. 14, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 14-18, 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 for the following:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) except that she is limited in the abilities to push and pull and operate hand or foot controls. She can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl and climb ladders, ropes and scaffolds and can frequently climb ramps and stairs. She must also avoid concentrated exposure to hazards such as machinery and heights.


         The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and found Plaintiff was unable to perform any of her PRW. (Tr. 18-19, Finding 6). The ALJ then determined whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 18-19, Finding 10). In addressing this issue, the ALJ applied the Medical-Vocational Guidelines or the “Grids.” Id. Specifically, the ALJ found that under Rule 201.28 of the Grids, Plaintiff was not disabled. Id. Accordingly, the ALJ found Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from March 31, 2008 through the date of his decision or through October 28, 2011. (Tr. 19, Finding 11).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. (Tr. 4). Thereafter, on October 1, 2012, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (Tr. 1-3). Plaintiff then appealed her case to this Court, and this Court reversed and remanded Plaintiff's case for further administrative review. See Hale v. SSA, 2:12-cv-02302 (ECF No. 20).

         B. ALJ's Second ...

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