United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
MARK E. FORD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Stewart-Seamster (“Plaintiff”) brings this action
under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking judicial review of a
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
Administration (“Commissioner) denying her claim for a
period of disability and disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act
(“the Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). In
this judicial review, the Court must determine whether there
is substantial evidence in the administrative record to
support the Commissioner's decision. See 42
U.S.C. § 405(g).
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. 6) Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
filed her disability application for DIB on June 28, 2010.
(ECF No. 13, p. 666-668) Plaintiff alleges being disabled due
to depression, anxiety, right wrist and shoulder problems,
left foot problems, and heart problems. (ECF No. 13, p. 729)
Her application was denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (ECF No. 13, p. 539)
requested an administrative hearing, which was held on June
9, 2011. (ECF No. 13, p. 481-507) On August 30, 2011, the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), Hon. Edward M.
Starr, entered an unfavorable decision denying the
Plaintiff's application for DIB. (ECF No. 13, pp. 536-46)
Plaintiff requested a review by the Appeals Council, which
subsequently vacated the hearing decision on April 19, 2013,
and remanded the case for further development of the record
because the hearing recording was partially inaudible and the
medical evidence on the record was insufficient to comply
with regulatory standards. (ECF No. 13, pp. 550-52)
another administrative hearing was held on August 15, 2013 in
Fort Smith, Arkansas. (ECF No. 13, pp. 508-33) Plaintiff was
present and was represented by counsel, David Harp.
Id. The Plaintiff and a Vocational Expert
(“VE”), Montie Lumpkin, testified at this
hearing. Id. During the hearing, Plaintiff's
counsel amended the alleged onset date to January 1, 2011.
(ECF No. 13, p. 515) Plaintiff testified she was fifty-three
(53) years old, which is defined as a “person closely
approaching advanced age” under 20 C.F.R. §
404.1563(d). (ECF No. 13, p. 511) Concerning education,
Plaintiff previously testified at her first administrative
hearing that she nearly completed an associate's degree.
(ECF No. 13, p. 484)
January 28, 2014, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying the Plaintiff's application for DIB. (ECF No. 13,
pp. 460-75) In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the
insured status requirements of the Act through June 30, 2013.
(ECF No. 13, p. 466, Finding 1) The ALJ found the Plaintiff
had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
(“SGA”) during the period from her original
alleged onset date of April 15, 2010 through her date last
insured on June 30, 2013. (ECF No. 13, p. 466, Finding 2) The
ALJ determined the Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: musculoskeletal disorder (osteoarthritis),
cardiovascular disorder (hypertension), obesity, and mental
disorders (affective disorders, depression and anxiety). (ECF
No. 13, pp. 466-67, Finding 3) The ALJ determined these
impairments did not meet or medically equal the requirements
of any of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1 (the “Listings”). (ECF No.
13, pp. 467-68, Finding 4)
then considered Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”). (ECF No. 13, pp. 464-73, Finding 5).
First, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and found her claimed limitations were not
entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined
the Plaintiff retained the RFC to perform light work as
defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b) except as follows:
The claimant is able to frequently lift and/or carry ten
pounds and occasionally twenty pounds, sit for a total of six
hours in an eight hour workday, and stand and/or walk for a
total of six hours in an eight hour workday. The claimant
cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. The claimant can
occasionally climb ramps or stairs, balance, crawl, kneel,
stoop, or crouch. The claimant can perform work consisting of
simple, routine, and repetitive tasks with incidental contact
with others and supervision that is simple, direct, and
then evaluated Plaintiff's past relevant work
(“PRW”). (ECF No. 13, p. 473, Finding 6). The VE
testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue.
(ECF No. 13, pp. 528-32) Considering Plaintiff's RFC, the
ALJ determined Plaintiff was unable to perform any past
relevant work. (ECF No. 13, p. 473, Finding 6). Based on
Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and her RFC,
the ALJ determined there were jobs existing in significant
numbers in the national economy the Plaintiff could perform,
such as: a cutting/slicing machine tender, which has
representative DOT codes of 976.685-010 and 640.6685-30, with
approximately 24, 858 jobs in the national economy, and
approximately 321 jobs in the state of Arkansas; as a
production helper, which has representative DOT codes of
589.687-022 and 789.687-166, with approximately 87, 246 jobs
in the national economy, and approximately 2, 241 jobs in the
state of Arkansas; and, as a sorter and weigher, which has
representative DOT codes of 222.387-074 and 788.687-016, with
approximately 129, 275 jobs in the national economy, and
approximately 1, 550 jobs in the state of Arkansas. (ECF No.
13, pp. 474-75) Because jobs exist in significant numbers in
the national economy which Plaintiff can perform, the ALJ
concluded that Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as
defined by the Act, from Plaintiff's original alleged
onset date of April 15, 2010, through Plaintiff's date
last insured on June 30, 2013. (ECF No. 13, p. 470, Finding
February 6, 2014, the Plaintiff requested a review by the
Appeals Council. (ECF No. 13, pp. 458-59) The Appeals Council
denied this request on September, 2015. (ECF No. 13, pp.
6-14) Plaintiff then filed the present action with this Court
on October 14, 2015. (ECF No. 1) The Parties consented to the
jurisdiction of this Court on October 22, 2015. (ECF No. 6)
October 28, 2016, oral argument was held before the
undersigned wherein the Plaintiff's attorney, David Harp,
appeared in person on behalf of the Plaintiff, and attorney,
Stuart Cox, appeared via telephone on behalf of the
Commissioner. (ECF No. 14) Based on the briefs of the parties
and the arguments presented at oral argument, this Court took
the case ...