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Rogers v. Colvin

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

February 9, 2017

JACQUELINE A. ROGERS PLAINTIFF
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Jacqueline A. Rogers (“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 Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and a period of disability 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. 8.[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 April 18, 2013. (Tr. 130). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to memory loss, nerve damage to her right side, and lower back and leg problems. (Tr. 290). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of July 1, 2013.[2] (Tr. 130). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 179-192).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied application. (Tr. 216-217). This hearing request was granted, and Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on August 15, 2014 in Texarkana, Arkansas. (Tr. 145-178). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Greg Giles. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) William Webber testified at this hearing. Id. During this hearing, Plaintiff testified she was forty-nine (49) years old, which is defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c). (Tr. 150). As for her education, Plaintiff testified she had graduated from high school and completed some college courses. Id.

         On November 14, 2014, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 127-140). The ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2017. (Tr. 132, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since July 1, 2013, her amended alleged onset date. (Tr. 132-133, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: seizure disorder, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and degenerative disc disease status post surgery. (Tr. 133-136, Finding 3). 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. 136-137, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 137-139, 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 capacity to perform a wide range of light work:

After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) in that she can lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally, lift and/or carry 10 pounds frequently, stand/walk for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday, and sit for 6 hours in an 8hour workday. The claimant can occasionally climb ramps/stairs, balance, stoop, bend, squat, kneel and crouch, but should [avoid] crawling or climbing ladders, ropes or scaffolds. She can use bilateral upper extremities occasionally for overhead reaching. The claimant must avoid more than occasional exposure to dust, fumes and other pulmonary irritants and must avoid exposure to dangerous equipment and driving.

Id.

         The ALJ then evaluated whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform her Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 139-140, Finding 6). Considering her RFC and other vocational considerations, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform her PRW as a pharmacy clerk, dispatcher, bail bond agent, deputy assessor, receptionist, and fast-food worker. Id. Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform her PRW, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from July 1, 2013 through the date of his decision or through November 14, 2014. (Tr. 140, Finding 7).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. Thereafter, on January 4, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. Id. On January 22, 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. 8, 12-14. 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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