United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Susan Taaffe (“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.
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 August 31,
2012. (Tr. 23, 192). In her applications, Plaintiff alleges
being disabled due to lupus, kidney disease, degenerative
disc disease, bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. (Tr.
217). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of December 8, 2006.
(Tr. 23). These applications were denied initially and again
upon reconsideration. (Tr. 79-111).
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied
applications. (Tr. 138). The ALJ granted that request and
held an administrative hearing on March 10, 2014 in
Texarkana, Arkansas. (Tr. 40-78, 150). At this hearing,
Plaintiff was present and was represented by Kevin
O'Connor. Id. Plaintiff, two Medical Experts
(“ME”), and a Vocational Expert
(“VE”) testified at this hearing. Id. At
this hearing, Plaintiff testified she was forty-five (45),
which is defined as a “younger person” under 20
C.F.R. § 416.963(c) (SSI) and 20 C.F.R. §
404.1563(c) (DIB). (Tr. 43). As for her level of education,
Plaintiff testified she had graduated from high school.
this hearing, on May 24, 2014, the ALJ entered an unfavorable
decision denying Plaintiff's applications for DIB and
SSI. (Tr. 20-35). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff
met the insured status requirements of the Act through
December 31, 2011. (Tr. 25, Finding 1). The ALJ found
Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since September 5, 2009, her amended
alleged onset date. (Tr. 25, Finding 2). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: chronic
lumbar pain, lupus, rheumatoid osteoarthritis, bipolar
disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. (Tr. 25-26,
Finding 3). Despite being severe, the ALJ determined these
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.
26-28, Finding 4).
then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (Tr. 28-33, 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 less than the wide range of
sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and
416.967(a). The ability to lift and carry 10 pounds
occasionally, less than 10 pounds frequently, stand and walk
2 hours of an 8-hour workday, and sit up to 6 hours of an
8-hour workday. The claimant would require an option to
alternate position for comfort for one to two minutes, no
climbing ladders, ropes or scaffolds, other postural
functions, such as climbing ramps and stairs, balance, stoop,
squat, could be performed occasionally, and frequent
handling. The claimant should avoid extreme heat and cold
temperatures, avoid concentrated exposure to pulmonary
irritants such as dusts, gases, fumes, odors, and poor
ventilation, and from a mental standpoint, simple non-complex
tasks and occasional contact with the public.
(Tr. 28, Finding 5).
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 33-34, Finding 6). Considering her
RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff could not perform any of
her PRW. Id. The ALJ also considered whether
Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work
existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr.
34-35, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative
hearing regarding this issue. Id. Based upon that
testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity
to perform the following: (1) lens inspector (unskilled,
sedentary) with 1, 600 such jobs in the region and 16, 000
such jobs in the nation; (2) film inspector (unskilled,
sedentary) with 2, 200 such jobs in the region and 22, 000
such jobs in the nation; and (3) dowel inspector (unskilled,
sedentary) with 1, 350 such jobs in the region and 13, 500
such jobs in the nation. Id. Because Plaintiff
retained the capacity to perform this work, the ALJ also
determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as
defined by the Act, from December 8, 2006 through the date of
his decision or through April 24, 2014. (Tr. 35, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested a review by the Appeals Council. On
October 28, 2015, the Appeals Council denied this request.
(Tr. 5-8). On November 24, 2015, Plaintiff filed the present
appeal with this Court. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to
the jurisdiction of this Court on November 24, 2015. ECF No.
5. This case is now ripe for determination.
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) (2006); 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 ...