United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
L. SETSER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Nancy Parry McShane, 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 and disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) under the provisions of Title II of the
Social Security Act (“Act”). 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 application for DIB on November 7,
2011. (ECF No. 13, p. 15). In her application, Plaintiff
alleges disability due to bipolar disorder, depression,
post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), anxiety,
fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”), degenerative
disc disease of the cervical and lumbar spine, and
chondromalacia. (ECF No. 13, p. 199). Plaintiff alleges an
onset date of October 31, 2002. (ECF No. 13, p. 15, 195).
This application was denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (ECF No. 13, pp. 64-65).
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied
applications, and this hearing request was granted. (ECF No.
13, p. 131, 145). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was
held on October 31, 2013, in Fort Smith, Arkansas (ECF No.
13, pp. 37-63). Plaintiff appeared and was represented by
John Baker. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Patty Kent testified at this hearing.
Id. At the time of this hearing, Plaintiff was
fifty-two (52) years old, which is defined as a “person
closely approaching advanced age” under 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1563(d). (ECF No. 13, p. 43). As for her
level of education, Plaintiff graduated from college with a
Bachelor's degree in journalism. (ECF No. 13, p. 43).
this hearing, on February 28, 2014, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for
DIB. (ECF No. 13, pp. 12-29). In this decision, the ALJ found
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act
through December 31, 2007. (ECF No. 13, p. 17, Finding 1).
The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial
Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since October 31, 2002,
her alleged onset date. (ECF No. 13, p. 17, Finding 2). The
ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: degenerative disc disease, migraine headaches,
chronic pain syndrome, osteoarthritis of the right shoulder,
and bipolar disorder. (ECF No. 13, pp. 17-18, 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. 13, pp. 18-20,
then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (ECF No. 13, pp. 20-27, 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) except is limited to jobs
involving simple tasks and simple instructions, and should
have only incidental contact with the public.” (ECF No.
13, p. 20).
then determined Plaintiff was unable to perform her Past
Relevant Work (“PRW”). (ECF No. 13, p. 27,
Finding 6). The VE testified at the administrative hearing
regarding this issue. (ECF No. 13, pp. 57-63). 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 assembler of small products, a housekeeper, and, within
the larger category of general office clerks, a sedentary
unskilled office clerk. (ECF No. 13, pp. 27-28, 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 October 31, 2002, through December 31, 2007, the
date Plaintiff last met the insured requirements of the Act.
(ECF No. 13, p. 28, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested a review by the Appeals Council (ECF. No.
13, p. 11). The Appeals Council denied this request on April
9, 2015. (ECF No. 13, pp. 6-9). On June 15, 2015, Plaintiff
filed the present appeal with this Court. (ECF No. 1). The
Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on
January 25, 2016. (ECF No. 8). This case is now ready for
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). 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.” 42 U.S.C.
§§ 423(d)(3). A Plaintiff must show that her
disability, not simply her impairment, has lasted for at
least twelve consecutive months. See 42 U.S.C.
Commissioner's regulations require her to apply a
five-step sequential evaluation process to each claim for
disability benefits: (1) whether the claimant has engaged in
substantial gainful activity since filing her claim; (2)
whether the claimant has a severe physical and/or mental
impairment or combination of impairments; (3) whether the
impairment(s) meet or equal an impairment in the listings;
(4) whether the impairment(s) prevent the claimant from doing
past relevant work; and, (5) whether the claimant is able to
perform other work in the national economy given his age,
education, and experience. See 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4). Only if she reaches the final
stage does the fact finder consider Plaintiff's age,
education, and work experience in light of his residual
functional capacity. See McCoy v. Schweiker, 683
F.2d 1138, 1141-42 (8th Cir. 1982), abrogated on other
grounds by Higgins v. Apfel, 222 F.3d 504, 505 (8th Cir.
2000); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v).