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Coletta v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division

January 17, 2017

THELMA COLETTA PLAINTIFF
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Thelma Coletta (“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 July 6, 2009. (Tr. 134-142). In her applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to lupus, thyroid problems, and back problems. (Tr. 178). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of April 30, 2009. (Tr. 134, 136). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 80-83).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied applications. (Tr. 98). This hearing request was granted, and Plaintiff's first administrative hearing was held on June 29, 2010 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. (Tr. 39-79). Subsequent to this hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications. (Tr. 24-34). Plaintiff appealed that decision to this Court, and Plaintiff's case was reversed and remanded back to the ALJ. (Tr. 654-662).

         Subsequent to that remand, the ALJ held a second administrative hearing on March 3, 2014 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. (Tr. 787). The ALJ then entered a second fully unfavorable decision on September 5, 2014. (Tr. 597-612). In that decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2013. (Tr. 602, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since April 30, 2009, her alleged disability onset date. (Tr. 602, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: musculoskeletal disorder (back disorder, lumbar degenerative disc disease post surgery X2) (7240), musculoskeletal disorder (other and unspecified arthropathies, left shoulder joint post-surgery and history of right long finger surgery) (7160), neurological disorder (carpal tunnel syndrome, post right carpal tunnel release surgery) (3540), endocrine disorder (thyroid disorder) (24060), and immune system disorder (inflammatory arthropaties, systemic lupus erythematosus) (7140). (Tr. 602-603, 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. 604-605, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 605-609, 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 sedentary 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 as follows: The claimant cannot climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds. The claimant can occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl. The claimant can occasionally reach or work overhead with the dominant left upper extremity. The claimant can frequently, but not constantly, reach in all other directions with the left upper extremity. The claimant cannot engage in rapid, repetitive flexion or extension of the right wrist.

Id.

         Considering her RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was unable to perform any of her Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) during the relevant time period. (Tr. 610, Finding 6). The ALJ determined Plaintiff was forty-six (46) years old on her alleged onset date. (Tr. 610, Finding 7). Such a person is categorized as a “younger person” pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) and 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had a limited education and was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 610, Finding 8).

         The ALJ then determined whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 610-611, Finding 10). Vocational Expert (“VE”) Larry Seifert testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id. Notably, the ALJ determined that a hypothetical person with Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC retained the capacity to perform work as a credit card callout clerk (sedentary, unskilled) with 16, 397 such jobs in the United States and 117 such jobs in Arkansas and as a charge account clerk (sedentary, unskilled) with 33, 980 such jobs in the United States and 382 such jobs in Arkansas. Id. Accordingly, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this other work. Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ then found Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined in the Act, from April 30, 2009 through March 8, 2013. (Tr. 611, Finding 11).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. (Tr. 621). On September 29, 2015, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. Id. On December 2, 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. Ap ...


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