United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Strother (“Plaintiff”) brings this action
pursuant to § 205(g) of Title II of the Social Security
Act (“The Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2006),
seeking judicial review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) denying her application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) 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. 7. Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
application for DIB was filed on April 8, 2013. (Tr. 13,
151-152). Plaintiff alleged she was disabled due to
scoliosis, arthritis, her right arm and shoulder, back and
neck pain, hip socket swelling, vision problems, and nerve
damage. (Tr. 166). Plaintiff alleged an onset date of
September 3, 2011. (Tr. 13, 151). This application was denied
initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 85-97,
100-101). Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative
hearing on her application and this hearing request was
granted. (Tr. 102).
administrative hearing was held on July 30, 2014. (Tr.
32-69). Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel,
Shannon Muse Carroll, at this hearing. Id. Plaintiff
and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Mack Welch testified
at this hearing. Id. At the time of this hearing,
Plaintiff was forty-three (43) years old and had a ninth
grade education. (Tr. 36-38).
November 5, 2014, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff's application for DIB. (Tr. 13-27). In
this decision, the ALJ determined the Plaintiff met the
insured status requirements of the Act through December 31,
2015. (Tr. 15, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff
had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since September 3, 2011, her alleged
onset date. (Tr. 15, Finding 2).
determined Plaintiff had the severe impairments of
fibromyalgia, osteoarthritic, back and neck pain,
degenerative disc disease, mild scoliosis, and right shoulder
pain. (Tr. 15, Finding 3). The ALJ then determined
Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or medically equal
the requirements of any of the Listing of Impairments in
Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Regulations No. 4
(“Listings”). (Tr. 16, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 16-24). First, the
ALJ indicated he evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and found her claimed limitations were not
entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff retained the RFC for a limited range of light work
and stated as follows:
The claimant has mild to moderate pain. She has certain
restrictions related to this pain and the diagnosis of
fibromyalgia, osteoarthritic, and back and neck pain. She can
occasionally climb, stoop, crouch, kneel, and/or crawl. The
pain has been basically treated with over-the-counter
medication, and more recently (in the last two months) with
Tramadol. Exertionally, the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform light work, with the ability
to lift-carry and push-pull no more than 20 pounds
occasionally and 10 pounds more frequency, the ability to
stand and/or walk up to 6 to 8 hours (1- 2 without
interruption) in an 8-hour workday, and the ability to stand
and/or walk up to 6 hours in an 8-hour workday (1-2 without
interruption) as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b). The problem
is with overhead reaching with the right dominant shoulder
and arm. It is very limited; less than one-third of the day.
There are no restrictions in the left. Reaching and handling
is limited to frequent as to constant. Because of that
limitation, the claimant should avoid operating moving
machinery, such as a bus, taxicab, car or forklift. She
should also avoid performing assembly type work that requires
constant repetitive type of reaching and grasping.
Mentally, the only issue is an adjustment disorder. However,
because of her past relevant work, which has been at the low
skilled level or unskilled level, the claimant is restricted
to unskilled activities as she has performed in the past.
These are unskilled rote activities, where she can
understand, carry out and remember concrete instructions and
in which contact with supervision, co-workers and the public
is superficial. Thus, the claimant would have the ability to
briefly meet-greet others, make change, and give simple
instructions and directions.
The law requires that the claimant under the age of 50 be
considered for sedentary work. Therefore, in alternative, the
undersigned has concluded that the claimant also has the
residual functional capacity to lift only 10 pounds or less
and perform work at the sitting position with a sit/stand
option, standing at an hour or sitting at an hour at a time.
All other restrictions are the same as listed above.
16-17, Finding 5).
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 24, Finding 6). The ALJ found
Plaintiff unable to perform his PRW. Id. The ALJ,
however, also determined there was other work existing in
significant numbers in the national economy Plaintiff could
perform. (Tr. 25, Finding 10). The ALJ based this
determination upon the testimony of the VE. Id.
Specifically, the VE testified that given all Plaintiff's
vocational factors, a hypothetical individual would be able
to perform the requirements of a representative occupation
such as office helper with 1, 200 such jobs in Arkansas and
70, 000 such jobs in the nation, and cashier with 1, 100 such
jobs in Arkansas and 240, 000 such jobs in the nation. In the
alternative, scale operator with 500 such jobs in Arkansas
and 28, 000 such jobs in the nation and ceramic tile
inspector with 500 such jobs in Arkansas and 30, 000 such
jobs in the nation. Id. Based upon this finding, the
ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability as
defined by the Act from September 3, 2011, through the date
of the decision. (Tr. 27, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council review the ALJ's
decision. (Tr. 7-9). See 20 C.F.R. § 404.968.
The Appeals Council declined to review this unfavorable
decision. (Tr. 1-6). On March 14, 2016, Plaintiff filed the
present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the
jurisdiction of this Court on March 15, 2016. ECF No. 7. Both
Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 11, 12. This case
is now ready for decision.