United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
LINDA J. PACULAN PLAINTIFF
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
ERIN L. SETSER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Linda J. Paculan, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), seeking judicial review of a decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“Commissioner”) denying her claims for a period
of disability, disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”), and supplemental security income
(“SSI”) benefits under the provisions of Titles
II and XVI of the Social Security Act (“Act”). 42
U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). In this
judicial review, the Court must determine whether there is
substantial evidence in the administrative record to support
the Commissioner's decision. See 42 U.S.C.
protectively filed her applications for DIB and SSI on May
17, 2012. (ECF No. 9, pp. 94, 107). In her application,
Plaintiff alleges disability due to problems with her spine,
arthritis, back, anxiety, and attention-deficit disorder
(“ADD”). (ECF No. 9, pp. 311-12). Plaintiff
alleges an onset date of July 15, 2010. (ECF No. 9, pp. 94,
107). These applications were denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (ECF No. 9, pp. 94-151). Thereafter,
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied
applications, and this hearing request was granted. (ECF No.
9, p. 155). Plaintiff's first administrative hearing was
held on July 22, 2013, in Shreveport, Louisiana before ALJ
John H. Goree. (ECF No. 9. pp. 52-89). Plaintiff was present
and was represented by Donna M. Price. Id. Plaintiff
and Vocational Expert (“VE”) William D. Elmore
testified at this hearing. Id. After this hearing,
on January 22, 2014, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff's applications for DIB and SSI. (ECF
No. 9, pp. 152-165). Thereafter, on February 20, 2015, the
Appeals Council vacated the decision of the ALJ and remanded
the case for further proceedings. (ECF No. 9, pp. 170-73).
second administrative hearing was held on June 8, 2015, in
Shreveport, Louisiana before ALJ W. Thomas Bundy. (ECF No. 9,
pp. 36-51). Plaintiff was present and was represented by
Donna Price. Id. Plaintiff and VE Anita Grant
testified at this hearing. Id. At the time of this
hearing, Plaintiff was forty-eight (48) years old, which is
defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1563(c), 416.963(c). (ECF No. 15, p. 59). As
for her level of education, Plaintiff completed the seventh
grade and subsequently earned her GED. (ECF No. 9, p. 59).
this hearing, on July 2, 2015, the ALJ entered an unfavorable
decision denying Plaintiff's applications for DIB and
SSI. (ECF No. 9, pp. 15-29). In this decision, the ALJ found
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act
through March 31, 2011. (ECF No. 9, p. 20, Finding 1). The
ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful
Activity (“SGA”) since July 15, 2010, her alleged
onset date. (ECF No. 9, p. 20, Finding 2). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: obesity,
degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, peripheral
neuropathy, and anxiety disorder. (ECF No. 9, pp. 20-21,
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 Part 404 (“Listings”). (ECF No. 9,
pp. 21-23, Finding 4).
then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (ECF No. 9, pp. 23-27, 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:
light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b)
except she would be limited to occasional stooping,
crouching, kneeling and crawling. She would lift 20 pounds
occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. She is able to sit for
six to eight hours and for one to two hours without
interruption. She is able to stand and/or walk for six to
eight hours and for one to two hours without interruption.
Mentally, she is able to understand, remember, and carry out
no more than 1-2-3 step instructions and have occasional
contact with the public and coworkers.
then determined Plaintiff was unable to perform her Past
Relevant Work (“PRW”). (ECF No. 9, p. 27, Finding
6). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding
this issue. (ECF No. 9, pp. 42-44). Based on Plaintiff's
age, education, work experience, and RFC, the ALJ determined
there were jobs existing in significant numbers in the
national economy Plaintiff could perform, such as a photo
copy machine operator, which has a DOT code of 207.685-014,
with approximately sixty-six thousand two hundred eighty (66,
280) jobs in the national economy, as an office helper, which
has a DOT code of 239.567-010, with approximately
eighty-three thousand two hundred fifty (83, 250) jobs in the
national economy, as a shipping and receiving weigher, which
has a DOT code of 222.387-074, with approximately sixty-nine
thousand nine hundred ninety (69, 990) jobs in the national
economy, and as a housekeeper, which has a DOT code of
323.687-014, with approximately eight hundred eighty-seven
thousand nine hundred eighty (887, 980) jobs in the national
economy. (ECF No. 9, p. 28, Finding 10). Because jobs exist
in significant numbers in the national economy, which
Plaintiff can perform, the ALJ also determined Plaintiff had
not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from July
15, 2010, through July 2, 2015, the date of the ALJ's
decision. (ECF No. 9, p. 28, Finding 11).
on August 31, 2015, Plaintiff requested a review by the
Appeals Council (ECF. No. 9, p. 14). The Appeals Council
denied this request on September 24, 2015. (ECF No. 9, pp.
9-13). On February 8, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present
appeal with this Court. (ECF No. 1). The Parties consented to
the jurisdiction of this Court on February 8, 2016. (ECF No.
6). This case is now ready for decision.
Court's role is to determine whether substantial evidence
supports the Commissioner's findings. Vossen v.
Astrue, 612 F.3d 1011, 1015 (8th Cir. 2010). Substantial
evidence is less than a preponderance but it is enough that a
reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the
Commissioner's decision. Teague v. Astrue, 638
F.3d 611, 614 (8th Cir. 2011). We must affirm the ALJ's
decision if the record contains substantial evidence to
support it. Blackburn v. Colvin, 761 F.3d 853, 858
(8th Cir. 2014). 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. Miller v. Colvin, 784 F.3d 472, 477
(8th Cir. 2015). In other words, if after reviewing the
record it is possible to draw two inconsistent positions from
the evidence and one of those positions represents the
findings of the ALJ, we must affirm the ALJ's decision.
claimant for Social Security disability benefits has the
burden of proving her disability by establishing a physical
or mental disability that has lasted at least one year and
that prevents her from engaging in any substantial gainful
activity. Pearsall v. Massanari, 274 F.3d 1211, 1217
(8th Cir. 2001); See also 42 U.S.C. §§
423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). The Act defines “physical
or mental impairment” as “an impairment that
results from anatomical, physiological, or psychological
abnormalities which are demonstrable by medically acceptable
clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques.” ...