United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
KATHERINE L. SCHLUTERMAN PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
L. Schluterman (“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”) and a period of
disability under Title II 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. 5. 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 on February 12,
2014. (Tr. 11). In her application, Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due to depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar
disorder, bulging disc in her back, arthritis in her left
shoulder, bilateral arthritis in her wrists, and bilateral
arthritis in her hips (left worse than right), and obesity.
(Tr. 188). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of October 5,
2012. (Tr. 11). This application was denied initially and
again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 59-75).
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied
application. (Tr. 99-100). The ALJ granted that request and
held an administrative hearing on June 17, 2015 in Fort
Smith, Arkansas. (Tr. 25-57). At this hearing, Plaintiff was
present and was represented by Fred Caddell. Id.
Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Deborah
Steele testified at this hearing. Id. At this
hearing, Plaintiff testified she was forty-nine (49) years
old, which is defined as a “younger person” under
20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (2008) (DIB). (Tr. 30). As for
her level of education, Plaintiff testified she completed the
twelfth grade in high school. Id.
this hearing, on July 16, 2015, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's disability
application. (Tr. 8-20). In this decision, the ALJ found
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act
through December 31, 2018. (Tr. 13, Finding 1). The ALJ
determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful
Activity (“SGA”) since October 5, 2012, her
alleged onset date. (Tr. 13, Finding 2). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: hypertension;
osteoarthritis of the left hip, shoulders, and wrists;
chronic lower back pain; spondylolisthesis at ¶ 5-S1;
and obesity. (Tr. 13-15, 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 Regulations No. 4
(“Listings”). (Tr. 13-15, Finding 3).
then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (Tr. 15-18, 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 the following:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(b), which consists of lifting and carrying up to
20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. She is
limited to work which involves simple tasks and simple
instructions. She should have only incidental contact with
the general public.
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”) and found Plaintiff was unable to perform
her PRW. (Tr. 18-19, Finding 6). The ALJ also considered
whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work
existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr.
19-20, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative
hearing regarding this issue. Id.
upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained
the capacity to perform occupations such as the following:
(1) air purifier servicer (light) with 1, 150 such jobs in
the region and 139, 760 such jobs in the nation; (2)
housekeeper or cleaner (light) with 3, 270 such jobs in the
region and 391, 650 such jobs in the nation; and (3) apparel
stock checker (light) with 150 such jobs in the region and
14, 500 such jobs in the nation. (Tr. 19-20, Finding 10).
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, from October 5, 2012
(alleged onset date) through July 16, 2015 (ALJ's
decision date). (Tr. 20, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested a review by the Appeals Council. (Tr. 5).
On July 1, 2016, the Appeals Council denied this request.
(Tr. 1-3). On August 4, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present
appeal with the Court. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to
the jurisdiction of this Court on August 5, 2016. ECF No. 5.
Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 13, 16. This
case is now ripe for determination.