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McReynolds v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division

March 28, 2017

PAULA R. MCREYNOLDS PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration[1] DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Paula R. McReynolds (“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”) and supplemental security income (“SSI”) benefits under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (“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. 5).[2] 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 disability application for DIB and SSI on August 19, 2011. (ECF No. 8, pp. 80-83). In her applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (“COPD”), diabetes, bulging discs in her lower back and neck, depression, anxiety, and post-surgical problems of her left forearm. (ECF No. 8, p. 169). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of August 1, 2009. (ECF No. 8, p. 165). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (ECF No. 8, pp. 80-83).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied applications, and this hearing request was granted. (ECF No. 8, p. 108). After this hearing, on May 24, 2013, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications for DIB and SSI. (ECF No. 8, pp. 21-32). Plaintiff subsequently filed an appeal with this Court. McReynolds v. Colvin, No. 2:14-cv-02226, 2015 WL 3866773 (W.D. Ark. 2015). The May 24, 2013, decision of the ALJ was reversed and remanded for failure to properly analyze Plaintiff's subjective complaints in accordance with the requirements of Polaski v. Heckler, 739 F.2d 1320 (8th Cir. 1984). Id.

         Plaintiff's second administrative hearing was held on November 3, 2015, in Fort Smith, Arkansas. (ECF No. 8, pp. 1155-199). Plaintiff was present and was represented by Iva Nell Gibbons. Id. Plaintiff and VE Larry Seifert testified at this hearing. Id. At the time of this hearing, Plaintiff was forty years old, which is defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c); 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c). (ECF No. 8, p. 1158). As for her level of education, Plaintiff earned a GED. Id.

         After this hearing, on February 4, 2016, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications for DIB and SSI. (ECF No. 8, pp. 1129-146). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through March 31, 2014. (ECF No. 8, p. 1135, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since August1, 2009, her alleged onset date. (ECF No. 8, p. 1135, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: “Musculoskeletal Disorder (Back Disorder, gegenerative disc disease) (7240); Respiratory Disorder (Chronic Pulmonary Insufficiency, COPD)

         (4960); Endocrine Disorder (Diabetes Mellitus) (2500); Special/Other Disorders (Obesity) (2780); and Mental Disorders (Affective Disorder, anxiety) (3000) and (Personality Disorder (3010). (ECF No. 8, pp. 1135-136, 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. 8, pp. 1136-138, Finding 4).

         The ALJ then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (ECF No. 8, pp. 1139-144, 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:

sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) except as follows: [Plaintiff] can frequently lift and/or carry less than ten pounds, and occasionally ten pounds, sit for a total of six hours in an eight hour workday, and stand and/or walk for a total of at least two hours in an eight hour workday. [Plaintiff] can occasionally climb, balance, crawl, kneel, stoop, or crouch. [Plaintiff] can perform simple, routine, and repetitive tasks in a setting where interpersonal contact is incidental to the work performed. [Plaintiff] can respond to supervision that is simple, direct, and concrete. [Plaintiff] must avoid concentrated exposure to pulmonary irritants like dusts, odors, and gasses.

Id.

         The ALJ then determined Plaintiff was unable to perform any Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (ECF No. 8, p. 1144, Finding 6). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. (ECF No. 8, pp. 1193-198). 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 compact assembler, which has a DOT code of 739.687-066, with approximately five thousand (5, 000) jobs in the national economy and approximately one hundred three (103) jobs in the state of Arkansas, as a semiconductor bonder, which has a DOT code of 726.685-066, with approximately five thousand four hundred one (5, 401) jobs in the national economy and approximately seventy (70) jobs in the state of Arkansas, and as a printed circuit board checker, which has a DOT code of 726.684-110, with approximately one hundred five (105) jobs in the state of Arkansas. (ECF No. 8, pp. 1145-146, 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 August 1, 2009, through February 4, 2016, the date of the ALJ's decision. (ECF No. 8, p. 1146, Finding 11).

         On May 31, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present appeal with this Court. (ECF No. 1). The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on June 1, 2016. ...


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