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Bordelon v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

January 4, 2017

KIMBERLY BORDELON PLAINTIFF
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Kimberly Bordelon (“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 Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”), 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 April 14, 2011. (Tr. 15, 122-135). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to anxiety and fibromyalgia. (Tr. 145). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of June 1, 2011. (Tr. 10). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 48-51).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied applications. (Tr. 70-72). This hearing request was granted, and Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on September 4, 2012. (Tr. 23-47). This hearing was held in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Shannon Carroll. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Mack Welch testified at this hearing. Id.

         On October 26, 2012, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications. (Tr. 7-17). The ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2015. (Tr. 12, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since June 1, 2011, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 12, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: fibromyalgia, adjustment disorder, and anxiety. (Tr. 12-13, Finding 3). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff's 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. 13-14, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 14-17, 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 a wide range of light work:

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 the claimant is limited to work where interpersonal contact is limited (limited being defined as infrequent contact that is not considered to be an essential job duty such as responding appropriately to simple questions).

Id.

         Considering her RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was capable of performing her Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) as a medical transcriptionist. (Tr. 17, Finding 6). Because the ALJ found Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform her PRW, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from June 1, 2011 through the date of his decision or through October 26, 2012. (Tr. 17, Finding 6).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. (Tr. 5). Thereafter, on October 23, 2013, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (Tr. 1-3). Plaintiff then appealed her case to this Court. See Bordelon v. SSA, 6:13-cv-06131, ECF No. 1 (W.D. Ark. Nov. 13, 2013). On January 15, 2015, the SSA remanded this case for further administrative review. Id. Consistent with that directive, the ALJ held a second administrative hearing on August 11, 2015 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. (Tr. 405-440). Subsequent to that hearing, the ALJ again entered an unfavorable administrative decision denying Plaintiff's applications for disability. (Tr. 338-404). On October 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. 5, 11-12. 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) (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 ...


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