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Henderson v. Berryhill

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

February 15, 2017

THERESA M. HENDERSON PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Theresa M. Henderson (“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 DIB application on July 22, 2013. (Tr. 75). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, agoraphobia, anxiety, allergies, and arthritis. (Tr. 241). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of June 17, 2013. (Tr. 75). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 119-134).

         After Plaintiff's application was denied, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 92-118). Thereafter, on October 2, 2014, the ALJ held an administrative hearing on Plaintiff's application. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Hans Pullen. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Diane Smith testified at this hearing. Id. At this administrative hearing, Plaintiff testified she was fifty-one (51) years old, which is defined as a “person closely approaching advanced age” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(d) (2008). (Tr. 96). As for her education, Plaintiff testified she had a bachelor's degree in education. (Tr. 97).

         On December 12, 2014, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 72-87). The ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2017. (Tr. 77, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since June 17, 2013, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 77, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: PTSD, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and cannabis dependence. (Tr. 77-78, 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. 78-80, Finding 4).

         The ALJ then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 80-85, 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 a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations: she should avoid excessive exposure to dust, fumes, or other pulmonary irritants due to her asthma. Mentally, the claimant is limited to work involving simple, routine, repetitive tasks where supervision is simple, direct, and concrete (unskilled work). Furthermore, she can maintain only occasional contact with co-workers and supervisors, and must have no contact with the general public. She cannot work in a team or in collaboration with others.

Id.

         The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and determined she was unable to perform any of her PRW. (Tr. 85, Finding 6). The ALJ then determined whether there were other jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy that she could perform. (Tr. 86, 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 occupations: (1) linen room attendant (medium, unskilled) with 4, 000 such jobs in the region and 47, 000 such jobs in the nation; (2) marking clerk (light, unskilled) with 8, 000 such jobs in the region and 180, 000 such jobs nationwide; and (3) bakery racker (light, unskilled) with 5, 000 such jobs in the region and 65, 000 such jobs nationwide. Id. Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this work, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from June 17, 2013 (alleged onset date) through December 12, 2014 (ALJ's decision date). (Tr. 87, Finding 11).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the review of the Appeals Council. (Tr. 51-52). On January 29, 2016, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-4). On February 29, 2016, Plaintiff filed her Complaint in this matter. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on March 18, 2016. ECF No. 8. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 12- 14. This case is now ready for decision.

         2. Ap ...


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