United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
SUSAN L. BALDWIN PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
L. Baldwin (“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 a period of
disability and Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) 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. 7. 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 11,
2013. (Tr. 12). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due to a number of impairments: chronic depression,
syncopal episodes, severe fatigue, volatile hypertension,
memory loss, severe headaches, anxiety, visual disturbances,
arrhythmias, intermittent shortness of breath, suicidal
ideation and attempts, herniated disc, fibromyalgia, and
suppressed immune system. (Tr. 311). Plaintiff alleges an
onset date of August 18, 2005. (Tr. 12). Her application was
denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr.
requested an administrative hearing on her denied
application. This request was granted, and Plaintiff's
administrative hearing was held on November 13, 2014 in Hot
Springs, Arkansas. (Tr. 32-75). At this hearing, Plaintiff
was present and was represented by Mr. Poland. Id.
Plaintiff, Vocational Expert (“VE”) David
Ellmore, and a witness for Plaintiff testified at this
hearing. Id. During this hearing, Plaintiff
testified she was fifty-three (53) years old, which is
defined as a “person closely approaching advanced
age” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(d) (2008). (Tr.
38). As for her education, Plaintiff testified she had
vocational training as a licensed practical nurse
(“LPN”). (Tr. 38-39).
March 4, 2015, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ
entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's
application. (Tr. 9-26). The ALJ determined Plaintiff last
met the insured status requirements of the Act on December
31, 2011. (Tr. 14, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff
did not engage in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) during the period from her alleged onset
date of August 18, 2005 through her date last insured of
December 31, 2011. (Tr. 14, Finding 2). The ALJ determined
through her date last insured, Plaintiff had the following
severe impairments: tachycardia/arrhythmia; Fibromyalgia;
history of left shoulder impingement; history of syncopal
episodes; depression; and anxiety. (Tr. 14, Finding 3). 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. 14-17, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 17-24, 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 capacity to perform the following:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that, through the date last insured, the
claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform
light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except she is
able to perform work with occasional stooping, crouching,
crawling, kneeling, bending, balancing, and climbing of
ramps/stairs, but no climbing of ladders, ropes, or
scaffolds; no work around hazards, such as unprotected
heights and moving machinery. Additionally, she is able to
perform simple, routine, and repetitive tasks with
supervision that is simple, direct, and concrete, with no
more than occasional contact with co-workers and supervisors,
and no contact with the general public.
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”) and found Plaintiff did not retain the
capacity to perform any of her PRW. (Tr. 24, Finding 6). The
ALJ then considered whether Plaintiff retained the capacity
to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the
national economy. (Tr. 24-25, Finding 10). 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) production assembler
(light, unskilled) with 6, 000 such jobs in Arkansas and 180,
000 such jobs in the nation; and (2) cleaner/housekeeper
(light, unskilled) with 4, 000 such jobs in Arkansas and 400,
000 such jobs in the nation. (Tr. 25). 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 18, 2005 (alleged
onset date) through December 31, 2011 (date last insured).
(Tr. 25, Finding 11).
sought review with the Appeals Council. On May 13, 2016, the
Appeals Council denied her request for review. (Tr. 1-3). On
July 18, 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. 7, 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) (2010); 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 ...