United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division
SHIRLEY B. MORRIS PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security AdministrationDEFENDANT
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
B. Morris (“Plaintiff”) brings this action under
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of a final
decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“SSA”) denying her claim for a
period of disability and disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act
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. 7). Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
protectively filed her disability application for DIB on
March 27, 2012. (ECF No. 12, pp. 21, 532). In her
application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to asthma
and depression. (ECF No. 12, p. 536). Plaintiff alleges an
onset date of November 4, 2011. (ECF No. 12, pp. 21, 532).
This application was denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (ECF No. 12, pp. 77-79, 84-85).
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied
application, and this hearing request was granted. (ECF No.
12, pp.86-89). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was
held on June 26, 2013, in Harrison, Arkansas. (ECF No. 12,
pp. 38-67). Plaintiff was present at this hearing and was
represented by Don Bishop. (ECF No. 12, p. 38). Plaintiff and
Vocational Expert (“VE”) Sarah Moore testified at
this hearing. (ECF No. 12, pp. 38-67). At the time of this
hearing, Plaintiff was fifty-three (53) years old, which is
defined as a “person closely approaching advanced
age” under 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1563(d). (ECF No.
12, p. 532). As for her level of education, Plaintiff has a
high school diploma. (ECF No. 12, p. 537).
this hearing, on November 26, 2013, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for
DIB. (ECF No. 12, pp. 18-31). In this decision, the ALJ found
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act
through December 31, 2016. (ECF No. 12, p. 23, Finding 1).
The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial
Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since November 4, 2011,
her alleged onset date. (ECF No. 12, p. 23, Finding 2). The
ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: asthma, seasonal allergies, and disorder of the
lumbar spine (ECF No. 12, p. 23, 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. 12, p. 25, Finding 4).
then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (ECF No. 12, pp. 25-29, 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 [Plaintiff]
must avoid even moderate exposure to fumes, odors, dusts,
gasses, poor ventilation, and similar environments; and
[Plaintiff] must avoid dangerous machinery.”
Id. at 25.
then determined Plaintiff could not return to her Past
Relevant Work (“PRW”). (ECF No. 12, p, 30,
Finding 6). The VE testified at the administrative hearing
regarding this issue. (ECF No. 12, pp. 62-65). 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 cashier, which has a DOT code of 211.462-010, with
approximately eight hundred nine thousand eight hundred (809,
800) jobs in the national economy, and approximately seven
thousand (7, 000) jobs in the regional economy, and as a
housekeeper, which has a DOT code of 323.687-014, with
approximately one hundred thirty-four thousand eight hundred
(134, 800) jobs in the national economy, and approximately
one thousand one hundred (1, 100) jobs in the regional
economy. (ECF No. 12, pp. 30-31, 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
November 4, 2011, through November 26, 2013, the date of the
ALJ's decision. (ECF No. 15, p. 509, Finding 11).
on December 24, 2013, Plaintiff requested a review by the
Appeals Council. (ECF No. 12, p. 16). The Appeals Council
denied this request on January 22, 2015. (ECF No. 12, pp.
12-15). The Appeals Council granted Plaintiff an extension of
time to file a civil action on June 29, 2015. (ECF No. 12, p.
5). On September 2, 2015, Plaintiff filed the present appeal
with this Court. (ECF No. 1). The Parties consented to the
jurisdiction of this Court on September 24, 2015. (ECF No.
7). This case is now ready for decision.
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 support the
Commissioner's decision. see Johnson v. Apfel,
240 F.3d 1145, 1147 (8th Cir. 2001).
as there is substantial evidence in the record to support 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 draw two inconsistent
positions from the evidence and one of those positions
represents the findings of the ALJ, the decision of the ALJ
must be affirmed. see Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065,
1068 (8th Cir. 2000).
well-established that a claimant for Social Security
disability benefits has the burden of proving his or her
disability by establishing a physical or mental disability
that lasted at least one year and that prevents him or her
from engaging in any substantial gainful activity. see
Cox v. Apfel, 160 F.3d 1203, 1206 (8th Cir. 1998); 42
U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A). The Act defines a
“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. §§ ...