United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Marie Turner (“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 applications for a period of
disability, Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”), and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI of the 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. 6. 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
January 16, 2013 and for SSI on January 22, 2013. (Tr. 12,
263-270). In her applications, Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due to early disc degeneration, a disc bulge, and
spondylosis at ¶ 2-3, and type 2 endplate disease at
¶ 5-S1. (Tr. 299). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of
December 27, 2009, which was later amended to February 1,
2011. (Tr. 30, 263, 269). These applications were denied
initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 12).
Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on
her denied applications, and this hearing request was
granted. (Tr. 152).
administrative hearing was held on August 20, 2014. (Tr.
25-76). Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel,
Jim O'Hern, at this hearing. Id. Plaintiff, her
friend Claudia Ross, and Vocational Expert (“VE”)
Jim B. Spragins testified at this hearing. Id. At
this hearing, Plaintiff testified he was forty-eight (48)
years old, and had a ninth grade education. (Tr. 28).
this hearing, on November 10, 2014, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's DIB and SSI
applications. (Tr. 12-19). In this decision, the ALJ
determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of
the Act through March 31, 2013. (Tr. 14, Finding 1). The ALJ
also determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial
Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since February 1, 2011.
(Tr. 14, Finding 2).
then determined Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: degenerative disc disease diabetes mellitus,
asthma, obesity, and shoulder diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
(Tr. 14, Finding 3). However, 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. 14-15, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (Tr. 15-17, Finding 5). 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 to perform sedentary work, except she could never
climb ropes or ladders; could occasionally climb stairs,
balance, crawl, kneel, stoop, crouch, and reach overhead
bilaterally; and must avoid hazards and exposure to
temperature extremes, wetness, humidity, fumes, gases, and
particulate matter; and avoid hazards. Id.
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”) and found Plaintiff was unable to perform
her PRW. (Tr. 17, Finding 6). The ALJ then considered whether
Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work
existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr.
18, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative
hearing on this issue. Id. Based upon that
testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity
to perform the following occupations: (1) small products
assembler with 181, 000 such jobs in the nation and 3, 600
such jobs in Arkansas, (2) escort vehicle driver with 20, 000
such jobs in the nation and 20 such jobs in Arkansas, and (3)
document preparer with 15, 000 such jobs in the nation and
200 such jobs in Arkansas Id. Because Plaintiff
retained the capacity to perform this other work, the ALJ
determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as
defined by the Act, since May 3, 2012. (Tr. 19, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's unfavorable decision. (Tr. 7-8). On February 2,
2016, the Appeals Council denied this request for review.
(Tr. 1-6). Plaintiff then filed the present appeal on March
28, 2016. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the
jurisdiction of this Court on April 1, 2016. ECF No. 6. Both
parties have field appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 12, 13. 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 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. 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