United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Green (“Plaintiff”) brings this action under 42
U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of a final
decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“SSA”) denying her claim for a
period of disability, disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”), and supplemental security income
(“SSI”) benefits under Titles II and XVI of the
Social Security Act (“The Act”).
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). Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
protectively filed her disability applications for DIB and
SSI on February 19, 2013. (ECF No. 12, p. 19). In her
applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to
diabetes, high blood pressure, and hand surgery. (ECF No. 12,
p. 282). Plaintiff initially alleged an onset date of
September 21, 2012, which was subsequently amended at the
administrative hearing to January 1, 2013. (ECF No. 12, pp.
113-14, 269). These applications were denied initially and
again upon reconsideration. (ECF No. 12, pp. 121-71).
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied
applications, and this hearing request was granted. (ECF No.
12, p. 189). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held
on August 14, 2014, in Dallas, Texas. (ECF No. 12, pp.
83-116). Plaintiff was present and was represented by Greg
Giles. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) William Weber testified at this hearing.
Id. At the time of this hearing, Plaintiff was
fifty-seven (57) years old, which is defined as a
“person of advanced age” under 20 C.F.R. §
404.1563(e); 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(e). (ECF No. 12, p.
88). As for her level of education, Plaintiff has a high
school diploma. Id. at 88-89.
this hearing, on September 25, 2014, the ALJ entered a
partially favorable decision granting Plaintiff's
applications for DIB and SSI beginning on January 24, 2014.
(ECF No. 12, pp. 15-32). In this decision, the ALJ found
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act
through December 31, 2016. (ECF No. 12, p. 21, Finding 1).
The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial
Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since September 21,
2012, her alleged onset date. (ECF No. 12, p. 21-22, Finding
2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments since the alleged onset date of September 21,
2012: degenerative disc disease, depressive disorder, and
anxiety disorder; and, Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments beginning on the established onset date of
January 24, 2014: large disc protrusion effacing the ventral
CSF with mild deformity of the ventral cord margin. (ECF No.
12, pp. 22-24, 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. 12, pp. 24-26, Finding 4).
then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (ECF No. 12, pp. 27-30, 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:
less than the full range of light work as defined in 20 CFR
404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) in that she could lift and carry
20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently, sit 6 hours
in an 8 hour workday, and stand/walk 6 hours in an 8 hour
workday. She could not climb using ropes, ladders, or
scaffolds; and could occasionally do the other postural
activities. She could use her right upper extremity
frequently but not constantly for fingering, handling, and
reaching. Furthermore, she was limited to simple routine
tasks and instructions.
Id. Thereafter, the ALJ determined, beginning on
January 24, 2014, Plaintiff retained the RFC to perform:
less than the full range of sedentary work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) in that she can lift/carry 10
pounds occasionally and less than 10 pounds frequently, sit 6
hours in an 8 hour workday and stand/walk 2 hours in an 8
hour workday with normal rest breaks. She can occasionally
climb ramps/stiars, balance, stoop, bend, squat, kneel, and
crouch; she can never crawl or climb ropes, ladders, or
scaffolds. She can understand simple instructions and carry
out simple unskilled tasks. She can use her right upper
extremity frequently but not constantly for fingering,
handling, and reaching.
(ECF No. 12, p. 30, Finding 6). The ALJ stated he arrived at
the date of January 24, 2014, “by assuming that her
severe back impairment existed for six months before it was
detected by MRI, ” and that Plaintiff's subjective
complaints for that time period were generally credible.
then determined, prior to January 24, 2014, Plaintiff could
return to her Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) as a
polisher/buffer, which has a DOT code of 708.684-062, as a
small products assembler, which has a DOT code of
706.684-022, and as a poultry eviscerator, which has a DOT
code of 525.687-074. (ECF No. 12, p. 30, Finding 7). The VE
testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue.
(ECF No. 13, pp. 107-13). The ALJ then determined, beginning
on January 24, 2014, Plaintiff was unable to return to her
PRW. (ECF No. 12, pp. 30-31, Finding 8). The ALJ then
determined no jobs existed in significant numbers in the
national economy which Plaintiff could perform beginning on
January 24, 2014 because, “[e]ven if [Plaintiff] had
the [RFC] for the full range of sedentary work, a finding of
‘disabled' is directed by Medical-Vocational Rule
201.04.” (ECF No. 12, p. 31, Finding 12). Because
Plaintiff could perform her PRW prior to January 24, 2014,
the ALJ also determined Plaintiff became disabled, as defined
by the Act, on January 24, 2014, and continued to be disabled
through September 25, 2014, the date of the ALJ's
decision. (ECF No. 12, p. 31, Finding 13).
on October 14, 2014, Plaintiff requested a review by the
Appeals Council. (ECF No. 12, p. 12). The Appeals Council
denied this request on August 13, 2015. (ECF No. 12, pp.
6-11). On September 24, 2015, Plaintiff filed the present
appeal with this Court. (ECF No. 1). The Parties consented to