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Waller v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

January 10, 2017

CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT



         Tracy D. Waller (“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 application for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title 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 SSI application on June 19, 2009. (Tr. 207). In her application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to a broken collar bone, broken ribs, mental impairments, high blood pressure, and liver problems. (Tr. 245). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of March 17, 2009. (Tr. 16). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 87-88).

         After Plaintiff's application was denied, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 63-86, 118). Thereafter, on September 8, 2010, the ALJ held an administrative hearing on Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 63-86). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Decker Barnette. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Mr. Hildry[2] testified at the hearing in this matter. Id. During this hearing, Plaintiff testified she was forty-five (45) years old, which is defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c) (2008) (SSI). (Tr. 66-67). As for her education, Plaintiff testified she had only completed the tenth grade in school. (Tr. 67).

         On March 18, 2011, after this administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 96-106). Plaintiff appealed that unfavorable decision to the Appeals Council. (Tr. 89-90). Upon review, the Appeals Council remanded Plaintiff's case back to the ALJ. Id. Importantly, the Appeals Council directed the ALJ to develop the record:

Obtain additional evidence concerning the claimant's status post rib fractures, status post right clavicle fracture, and mental impairments in order to complete the administrative record in accordance with the regulatory standards regarding consultative examinations and existing medical evidence (20 CFR 416.912-913). The additional evidence may include, if warranted and available, consultative internal medicine and mental examinations with psychological testing and medical source statements about what the claimant can still do despite the impairments.

(Tr. 92-93) (emphasis added).

         The ALJ then held a second administrative hearing. (Tr. 37-62). Thereafter, the ALJ again entered a fully unfavorable decision. (Tr. 16-31). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since June 19, 2009, her application date. (Tr. 19, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: status post rib fractures and status post right clavicle fracture. (Tr. 19, Finding 2). 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. 19-20, Finding 3).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 20-29, 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:

Giving the claimant the benefit of the doubt, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform at least light work (lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally, and 10 pounds frequently), as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(c). She can sit, stand, and/or walk for about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday. She is not limited in pushing and/or puffing with her upper and lower extremities. She has no postural, manipulative, visual, communicative, or environmental limitations. She does not have a severe mental impairment.


         Considering her RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was capable of performing her Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) as a cashier or checker. (Tr. 29-31, Finding 5). 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, ...

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