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Gasca v. Colvin

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

January 23, 2017

ANGELA GASCA PLAINTIFF
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Angela Gasca (“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”).

         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. 6.[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 application on January 31, 2013. (Tr. 11). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to chronic anxiety and panic disorder. (Tr. 173). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of January 1, 2010. (Tr. 11). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 25-50). Plaintiff was subsequently incarcerated and did not request an administrative hearing. (Tr. 144-146). Instead, she requested her case be decided base upon the information contained in the record. Id.

         On November 14, 2014, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 8-20). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since January 31, 2013, her application date. (Tr. 13, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: mental disorders (mood/affective disorders, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder); personality disorder; and substance abuse, alcohol, and drugs. (Tr. 13-14, 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. 14-15, Finding 3).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and her RFC. (Tr. 15-18, Finding 4).. 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:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following non-exertional limitations: The claimant is able to perform work where interpersonal contact with co-workers and supervisors is only incidental to the work performed, there is no contact with the general public, the complexity of tasks is learned and performed by rote, with few variables and little use of judgment, and the supervision required is simple, direct, and concrete.

Id.

         The ALJ found Plaintiff had a limited education and was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 19, Finding 7). The ALJ also found Plaintiff was thirty-six (36) years old, which is defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c). (Tr. 18, Finding 6). The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and found Plaintiff was unable to perform any of her PRW. (Tr. 18, Finding 5).

         The ALJ then determined whether Plaintiff retained the capacity other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 19-20, Finding 9). A vocational expert responded to written interrogatories on this issue. Id. Considering Plaintiff's RFC and other limitations, the ALJ determined a hypothetical person with those limitations retains the capacity to perform occupations such as the following: (1) hand packager (medium, unskilled) with 41, 155 such jobs in the national economy and 315 such jobs in Arkansas; (2) power screwdriver operator (light, unskilled) with 61, 176 such jobs in the national economy and 422 such jobs in Arkansas; and (3) production worker (light, unskilled) with 51, 639 such jobs in the national economy and 360 such jobs in Arkansas. Id. Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform these jobs, she retained the capacity to perform other work. Id. Accordingly, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from January 31, 2013 (application date) through November 14, 2014 (ALJ's decision date). (Tr. 20, Finding 10).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. (Tr. 6). Thereafter, on December 17, 2015, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (Tr. 1-3). On January 7, 2016, 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. 6, 12-13. This case is now ready for decision.

         2. Applicable Law:

         In 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 ...


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