United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
ERIN L. SETSER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Jacquelyn Horton, 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, disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”), and supplemental security income
(“SSI”) benefits under the provisions of Titles
II and XVI of the Social Security Act (“Act”). 42
U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). 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 applications for DIB and SSI on April
10, 2012. (ECF No. 14, pp. 16, 149). In her applications,
Plaintiff alleges disability due to bipolar disorder,
depression, borderline personality disorder, and anxiety.
(ECF No. 14, p. 153). Plaintiff initially alleged an onset
date of March 17, 1999, which Plaintiff subsequently amended
at the administrative hearing to April 8, 2009. (ECF No. 14,
pp. 16, 39, 149). These applications were denied initially
and again upon reconsideration. (ECF No. 14, pp. 57-63,
67-71). Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative
hearing on her denied applications, and this hearing request
was granted. (ECF No. 14, p. 76). Plaintiff's
administrative hearing was held on September 23, 2013, in
Jonesboro, Arkansas. (ECF No. 14. pp. 16, 34-49). Plaintiff
was present and was represented by Nicholas Coleman.
Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Elizabeth Clem testified at this hearing.
Id. At the time of this hearing, Plaintiff was
twenty-seven (27) years old, which is defined as a
“younger person” under 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1563(c), 416.963(c). (ECF No. 14, p. 37). As for her
level of education, Plaintiff completed the twelfth grade.
(ECF No. 14, p. 37).
this hearing, on January 14, 2014, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications for
DIB and SSI. (ECF No. 14, pp. 13-27). In this decision, the
ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of
the Act through December 31, 2009. (ECF No. 14, p. 18,
Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in
Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since March
17, 1999, her pre-amendment alleged onset date. (ECF No. 14,
p. 18, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the
following severe impairments: major depressive disorder,
borderline personality disorder, anxiety disorder, substance
induced psychotic disorder, and recurrent ovarian cysts. (ECF
No. 14, pp. 18-19, 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. 14, pp. 19-20, Finding 4).
then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (ECF No. 14, pp. 20-25, 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:
a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the
following non-exertional limitations: this individual can
perform where interpersonal contact is limited. Limited is
defined as interpersonal contact that requires little
interaction, such as answering simple questions, responding
appropriately to co-workers and supervisors, interaction with
the public is infrequent and considered to be an essential
job duty; complexity of tasks is learned by
demonstration and repetition within 30 days, with few
variables, little judgment and the supervision required is
simple, direct and concrete.
then determined Plaintiff had no Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (ECF No. 14, p. 25, Finding 6). The VE
testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue.
(ECF No. 14, pp. 47-49). 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 a commercial laundry
worker and as a housekeeper. (ECF No. 14, p. 26, 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 March 17, 1999, her pre-amendment alleged onset
date, through January 14, 2014, the date of the ALJ's
decision. (ECF No. 14, p. 26, Finding 11).
on March 14, 2014, Plaintiff requested a review by the
Appeals Council (ECF. No. 14, pp. 11-12). The Appeals Council
denied this request on April 15, 2015. (ECF No. 14, pp.
5-10). On June 12, 2015, Plaintiff filed the present appeal
with this Court. (ECF No. 1). The Parties consented to the
jurisdiction of this Court on June 30, 2015. (ECF No. 6).
This case is now ready for decision.
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), 1382c(a)(3)(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), 1382c(a)(3)(D). A Plaintiff
must show that her disability, not simply her impairment, has
lasted for at least twelve consecutive months.
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 her age,
education, and experience. See 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4). Only if she
reaches the final stage does the fact finder consider
Plaintiff's age, education, and work experience in light
of her residual functional ...