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Walker v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

February 9, 2017

CAROL WALKER PLAINTIFF
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Carol Walker (“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. 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 March 1, 2013. (Tr. 77). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to breast cancer. (Tr. 237). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of December 31, 2012. (Tr. 77). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 134-145).

         After Plaintiff's application was denied, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 93-133). Thereafter, on August 12, 2014, the ALJ held an administrative hearing on Plaintiff's application. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Shannon Muse Carroll. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Myrtle Johnson testified at this hearing. Id.

         At this administrative hearing, Plaintiff testified she was fifty-five (55) years old, which is defined as a “person of advanced age” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(e) (2008) (DIB). (Tr. 97). As for her education, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had a high school education and was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 104-105).

         On February 11, 2015, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 74-86). The ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2016. (Tr. 79, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since December 31, 2012, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 79, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: ductal carcinoma of the breast and osteoarthritis. (Tr. 79-81, 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. 81-82, Finding 4).

         The ALJ then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 82-85, 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, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except that she can sit for six to eight hours in an eight hour day and stand and walk for six to eight hours in an eight hour day for one to two hours without interruption. She can occasionally climb, stoop, crouch, kneel, and crawl, but never balance or climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds. She cannot work at restrictive heights. She can never operate moving machinery such as driving a bus, taxi or forklift. She can frequently reach and handle.

Id.

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 85-86, Finding 6). Considering her RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform her PRW as a furniture salesman. 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 December 31, 2012 through the date of his decision or through February 11, 2015. (Tr. 86, Finding 7).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the review of the Appeals Council. On January 11, 2016, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-4). On February 8, 2016, Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this matter. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on February 8, 2016. ECF No. 5. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 11-12. This case is now ready for decision.

         2. Ap ...


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