United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Zitano (“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”), Supplemental Security
Income (“SSI”), and a period of disability under
Titles II and XVI 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. 5.Pursuant to this authority,
the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry
of a final judgment in this matter.
protectively filed an application for DIB and SSI on June 4,
2013. (Tr. 37). Plaintiff alleged she was disabled due to due
to hepatitis C, headaches, fatigue, high blood pressure,
sleep issues, cervical nerve damage, and injuries to her left
shoulder, elbow, hip, and knee. (Tr. 181).
alleged an onset date of September 15, 2011. (Tr. 37). These
applications were denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 37, 81-100, 159-164). Thereafter,
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her
applications and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 111).
administrative hearing was held on October 21, 2014. (Tr.
54-80). Plaintiff was present and was represented by Greg
Giles at this hearing. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational
Expert (“VE”) Susan Johnson testified at this
hearing. Id. At the time of this hearing, Plaintiff
was fifty-three (53) years old and had completed the eleventh
grade. (Tr. 63).
January 29, 2015, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff's application for SSI. (Tr. 37-49). In
this decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged
in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since
June 14, 2013. (Tr. 39, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined
Plaintiff had the severe impairment of degenerative disc
disease of the cervical spine with radiculopathy, and
multiple trauma with fracture of her lower limb and mild
residual lower extremity effects. (Tr. 40, Finding 2). 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. 44, Finding 3).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 44-48). 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 the full range of light
work. (Tr. 44-45, Finding 4).
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 48, Finding 5). The ALJ found
Plaintiff was capable of performing her PRW as a cashier.
Id. Given this, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not
been under a disability as defined in the Act since June 14,
2013. (Tr. 49, Finding 6).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council review the ALJ's
unfavorable decision. (Tr. 33). See 20 C.F.R. §
404.968. The Appeals Council declined to review this
unfavorable decision. (Tr. 1-7). On April 13, 2016, Plaintiff
filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to
the jurisdiction of this Court on April 14, 2016. ECF No. 5.
Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 11, 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 long 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
represents the findings of the ALJ, the decision of the ALJ
must be affirmed. See Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065,
1068 (8th Cir. 2000).
well established that a claimant for Social Security
disability benefits has the burden of proving his or her
disability by establishing a physical or mental disability
that lasted at least one year and that prevents him or her
from engaging in any substantial gainful activity. See
Cox v. Apfel, 160 F.3d 1203, 1206 (8th Cir. 1998); 42
U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). The Act
defines a “physical or mental impairment” as
“an impairment that results from anatomical,
physiological, or psychological abnormalities which are
demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory
diagnostic techniques.” 42 U.S.C. §§
423(d)(3), 1382(3)(c). A plaintiff must show that his or her
disability, not simply his or her impairment, has lasted for
at least twelve consecutive months. See 42 U.S.C.
determine whether the adult claimant suffers from a
disability, the Commissioner uses the familiar five-step
sequential evaluation. He determines: (1) whether the
claimant is presently engaged in a “substantial gainful
activity”; (2) whether the claimant has a severe
impairment that significantly limits the claimant's
physical or mental ability to perform basic work activities;
(3) whether the claimant has an impairment that meets or
equals a presumptively disabling impairment listed in the
regulations (if so, the claimant is disabled without regard
to age, education, and work experience); (4) whether the
claimant has the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to
perform his or her past relevant work; and (5) if the
claimant cannot perform the past work, the burden shifts to
the Commissioner to prove that there are other jobs in the
national economy that the claimant can perform. See
Cox, 160 F.3d at 1206; 20 C.F.R. ...