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Doty v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division

March 15, 2017

CATHY DOTY PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, [1] Commissioner Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. ERIN L. SETSER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, Cathy Doty, 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 period of disability and disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental security income (SSI) benefits under the provisions of Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (Act). 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. § 405(g).

         I. Procedural Background:

         Plaintiff protectively filed her current applications for DIB and SSI on May 13, 2013, alleging an inability to work since August 29, 2012, due to left shoulder pain and spinal stenosis. (Doc. 9, pp. 80, 187, 194). An administrative hearing was held on May 8, 2014, at which Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified. (Doc. 9, pp. 38-77).

         By written decision dated September 5, 2014, the ALJ found that from August 29, 2012 through December 1, 2013, Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease/degenerative joint disease of the cervical spine and a disorder of the left shoulder. (Doc. 9, p. 20). However, the ALJ found that from August 29, 2012 through December 1, 2013, Plaintiff did not have an impairment of combination of impairments that met or equaled the level of severity of any impairment listed in the Listing of Impairments found in Appendix I, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4. (Doc. 9, p. 20). The ALJ also found that from August 29, 2012 through December 1, 2013, Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) to:

perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except she was limited to occasional overhead reaching bilaterally, and would have been off-task approximately ¼ of the workday, due to pain.

(Doc. 9, p. 20). The ALJ found that from August 29, 2012 through December 1, 2013, Plaintiff was unable to perform any past relevant work and that there were no jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff could have performed, and that Plaintiff was under a disability from August 29, 2012 through December 1, 2013. (Doc. 9, pp. 24-25).

         In the same decision, the ALJ found that beginning on December 2, 2013, Plaintiff had not developed any new impairment or impairments, and that her current severe impairments were the same as those present from August 29, 2012 through December 1, 2013. (Doc. 9, p. 25). The ALJ reported that beginning December 2, 2013, Plaintiff did not have an impairment of combination of impairments that met or equaled the level of severity of any impairment listed in the Listing of Impairments found in Appendix I, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4. (Doc. 9, p. 25). The ALJ further found that medical improvement occurred and Plaintiff's disability ended as of December 2, 2013. (Doc. 9, p.25). The ALJ found that beginning on December 2, 2013, the Plaintiff had the RFC to:

perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except she is limited to occasional overhead reaching bilaterally.

(Doc. 9, p. 26). With the help of a vocational expert, the ALJ determined that beginning December 2, 2013, Plaintiff was capable of performing work as a companion. (Doc. 9, p. 29).

         The ALJ therefore concluded that Plaintiff's disability ended December 2, 2013. (Doc. 9, p. 29).

         Plaintiff then requested a review of the hearing decision by the Appeals Council, which denied that request on November 18, 2015. (Doc. 9, p. 5). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action. (Doc. 1). This case is before the undersigned pursuant to the consent of the parties. (Doc. 5). Both parties have filed appeal briefs, and the case is now ready for decision. (Docs. 14, 16).

         The Court has reviewed the entire transcript. The complete set of facts and arguments are presented in the parties' briefs, and are repeated here only to the extent necessary.

         II. ...


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