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Williamson v. Berryhill

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

June 30, 2017

JENNIFER E. WILLIAMSON PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Jennifer E. Williamson (“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 applications for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”), 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.[1] 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 applications on January 18, 2013. (Tr. 69). In her applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to fibromyalgia. (Tr. 264). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of March 27, 2012. (Tr. 69). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 122-152).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied applications. (Tr. 174-175). The ALJ granted that request and held an administrative hearing on March 17, 2014 in Texarkana, Arkansas. (Tr. 91-121). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Greg Giles. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Mr. Fildry[2] testified at this hearing. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff testified she was thirty-eight (38) years old, which is defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c) (SSI) and 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (2008) (DIB). (Tr. 95). As for her level of education, Plaintiff testified she completed high school and “some” college. (Tr. 95).

         After this hearing, on April 24, 2015, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's disability applications. (Tr. 69-87). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2017. (Tr. 71, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since March 27, 2012, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 71-72, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: fibromyalgia and obesity. (Tr. 72-73, 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. 73-76, Finding 4).

         The ALJ then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 77-85, 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:

I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work. She can stand and/or walk for about 2 hours in an eight-hour workday, but sit 6 hours in an eight-hour day. She is not limited in pushing and pulling with her upper and lower extremities. She can occasionally climb, bend, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. She has no manipulative, visual, environmental, or communicative limitations.

Id.

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and found Plaintiff was unable to perform her PRW. (Tr. 85-86, Finding 6). The ALJ also considered whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 86-87, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id.

         Based upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform occupations such as the following: (1) order clerk with 139, 000 such jobs in the nation and 500 such jobs in Arkansas; (2) assembler with 106, 000 such jobs in the nation and 600 such jobs in Arkansas; and (3) cutter with 136, 000 such jobs in the nation and 750 such jobs in Arkansas. (Tr. 87). 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 March 37, 2012 (application date) through April 24, 2015 (ALJ's decision date). (Tr. 87, Finding 11).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested a review by the Appeals Council. (Tr. 62). On June 23, 2016, the Appeals Council denied this request. (Tr. 1-3). On July 22, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present appeal with this Court. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on July 22, 2016. ECF No. 5. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 12-13. This case is now ripe for determination.

         2. Ap ...


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