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Hampton v. Berryhill

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

June 7, 2017

NANCY HAMPTON PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Nancy Hampton (“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 Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title 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.

         1. Background:

         Plaintiff protectively filed her current disability application on August 16, 2012. (Tr. 12). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to a number of impairments: bulging discs, degeneration in the back, knee trouble, and hip trouble. (Tr. 200). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of January 13, 2002. (Tr. 164). Her application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 59-70).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied application. (Tr. 99-101). This request was granted, and Plaintiff's initial administrative hearing was held on June 10, 2014. (Tr. 50-57). Thereafter, the ALJ held a second administrative hearing on January 21, 2015. (Tr. 26-49). This second administrative hearing was held in Texarkana, Arkansas. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Greg Giles. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Mr. Thomas[1] testified at this hearing. Id.

         On April 22, 2015, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 9-20). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since August 16, 2012, her application date. (Tr. 14, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine with herniated nucleus pulposus; obesity; and left knee degenerative joint disease status post arthroscopy. (Tr. 14, Finding 2). 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, Finding 3).

         In this opinion, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was thirty-three (33) years old, which is defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c) (SSI). (Tr. 19, Finding 6). As for her education, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had a high school education and was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 19, Finding 7).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 15-19, Finding 4). 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 capacity to perform the following:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(a) with occasional balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, crawling, and climbing ramps/stairs but not ladders, ropes or scaffolds; must be allowed to shift positions while seated at will and must be able to stand from the seated position every 30 minutes.

Id.

         The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and found Plaintiff did not retain the capacity to perform any of her PRW. (Tr. 19, Finding 5). The ALJ then considered whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 19-20, Finding 9). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id. Based upon this testimony and considering her RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the following occupations: (1) patcher with 6, 800 such jobs in the nation and (2) touch-up screener with 8, 500 such jobs in the nation. (Tr. 20). 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, at any time from August 16, 2012 through the date of his decision or through April 22, 2015. (Tr. 20, Finding 10).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. On June 28, 2016, the Appeals Council denied her request for review. (Tr. 1-3). On August 2, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in her case. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs and have consented to the jurisdiction of this Court. ECF Nos. 5, 11-12. This case is now ready for decision.

         2. Ap ...


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