United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
CYNTHIA D. MCALISTER PLAINTIFF
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
D. McAlister (“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 a period of
disability and Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II of the Act.
to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and (3)
(2009), the Honorable P. K. Holmes, III referred this case to
this Court for the purpose of making a report and
recommendation. In accordance with that referral, and after
reviewing the arguments in this case, this Court recommends
Plaintiff's case be AFFIRMED.
protectively filed her disability application on December 19,
2012. (Tr. 17). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due to arthritis, hypoglycemia, irritable bowel
syndrome, dizziness, fatigue, and blackouts. (Tr. 178).
Plaintiff alleges an onset date of November 9, 2011. (Tr.
17). This application was denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 77-85).
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing, and that
hearing request was granted. (Tr. 32-73, 101-102).
Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on January
28, 2014 in Russellville, Arkansas. (Tr. 32-73). At this
hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by
counsel, Lauren McKinnon. Id. Plaintiff and
Vocational Expert (“VE”) Sarah Moore testified at
this hearing. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff
testified she was fifty-nine (59) years old, which is defined
as a “person of advanced age” under 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1563(e). (Tr. 37). As for her education, Plaintiff
testified she had graduated from high school. Id.
September 18, 2014, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff's DIB application. (Tr. 14-26). In this
decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status
requirements of the Act through December 31, 2016. (Tr. 19,
Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in
Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since
November 9, 2011, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 19, Finding
2). The ALJ found Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: fibromyalgia syndrome/generalized
osteoarthritis; hypothyroidism; hypertension; allergies;
asthma; insomnia; obesity; and a history of seizures/syncope.
(Tr. 19-22, Finding 3). Despite being severe, the ALJ
determined those 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. 22-23, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 23-25, 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 light work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(b) except the claimant should avoid concentrated
exposure to temperature extremes, humidity, fumes, odors,
dust, gases, poor ventilation and hazards (with no work
around unprotected heights or dangerous machinery), including
no driving as part of work requirements.
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 25-26, Finding 6). Considering her
limitations, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the
capacity to perform her PRW as a machine operator and motor
tester. Id. Because Plaintiff retained the capacity
to perform her PRW, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been
under a disability, as defined in the Act, from November 9,
2011 through the date of his decision or through September
18, 2014. (Tr. 26, Finding 7).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's decision. On October 9, 2015, the Appeals Council
denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-3). On December 8,
2015, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both
Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 9, 11. This case
is now ready for decision.
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 ...