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Templeton v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

February 2, 2017

SANDRA TEMPLETON PLAINTIFF
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Sandra Templeton (“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 a period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II 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 DIB application on August 13, 2012. (Tr. 14). In her application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to being legally blind in her right eye, vision loss and double vision in both eyes, post traumatic stress syndrome, depression and anxiety, severe depth perception loss, peripheral vision loss in both eyes, stroke in right eye, daily headaches and pain, short term memory loss, and trouble walking “in unfamiliar places without assistance.” (Tr. 210). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of October 5, 2011. (Tr. 14). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 82-100).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied application. (Tr. 128). The ALJ granted that request and held an administrative hearing on June 25, 2014 in Texarkana, Arkansas. (Tr. 35-69). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel. Id. Plaintiff, Vocational Expert (“VE”) Ms. Parker, and Medical Expert (“ME”) Dr. Cole[2] testified at this hearing. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff testified she was fifty-two (52) years old, which is defined as a “person closely approaching advanced age” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(d) (DIB). (Tr. 38). As for her level of education, Plaintiff testified he had graduated from high school. Id.

         After this hearing, on August 29, 2014, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for DIB. (Tr. 11-29). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2015. (Tr. 16, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since October 5, 2011, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 16, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following “severe” impairments: history of aneurysm; affective disorder; depressive disorder NOS; anxiety; and posttraumatic stress disorder. (Tr. 16-20, 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 Regulations No. 4 (“Listings”). (Tr. 20-21, Finding 4).

         The ALJ then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 21-28, 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 the following:

After careful consideration of the entire record, I agree with the DDS consultants and the Medical Expert the impairments reasonably result in a residual functional capacity to occasionally lift/carry 20 pounds, frequently lift/carry 10 pounds, stand and/or walk for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday, and sit for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday, except that the claimant can only understand, remember, and carry out simple repetitive 1-2 step tasks, make decisions, accept instructions, attend and concentrated for 2 hour periods, respond appropriately to changes in the work setting. Interpersonal contact with the public and supervisor is limited to occasional. The evidence of vision deficits is conflicting, but according to Dr. Sauer there would be no visual restrictions and I adopt her finding.

Id.

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 28, Finding 6). Considering her RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff could not perform any of her PRW. Id. The ALJ also determined whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing is significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 28-29, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id. Based upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the following: (1) poultry boner (light, unskilled) and (2) poultry eviscerator (light, unskilled). Id. Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this work, the ALJ also determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from Plaintiff's alleged onset date of October 5, 2011 through the date of the ALJ's decision or through August 29, 2014. (Tr. 29, Finding 11).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested a review by the Appeals Council. (Tr. 9). On December 8, 2015, the Appeals Council denied this request. (Tr. 1-3). On February 5, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present appeal with this Court. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on February 10, 2016. ECF No. 5. This case is now ripe for determination.

         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) (2006); 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 ...


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