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Jackson v. Berryhill

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

July 10, 2017

TERRANDA JACKSON PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Terranda Jackson (“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, Disability Insurance benefits (“DIB”), and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) 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. 7.[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 in January 2014. (Tr. 132, 315-324). In her applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to back problems. (Tr. 347). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of October 1, 2013. (Tr. 132). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 132, 243-247).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied applications. (Tr. 248). The ALJ granted that request and held an administrative hearing on May 11, 2015. (Tr. 146-196). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Greg Giles. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Harris Rowzie, testified at this hearing. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff testified she was thirty-one (31). (Tr. 154). As for her level of education, Plaintiff testified she had graduated from high school. (Tr. 156).

         After this hearing, on June 25, 2015, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications for DIB and SSI. (Tr. 132-140). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status of the Act through December 31, 2017. (Tr. 134, Finding 1.). The ALJ also found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since October 1, 2013. (Tr. 134, Finding 2).

         The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: post posterior lumbar interbody fusion L5-S1 with pedicle screw fixation, and obesity. (Tr. 134, 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. 135, Finding 4).

         The ALJ then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 135-138, Finding 5). 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 less than the full range of sedentary work except occasionally climb ramps, or stairs; never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; and time off task could be accommodated by normal breaks. (Tr. 135).

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 138, Finding 6). Considering her RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff could not perform any of her PRW. Id. The ALJ also considered whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 139, 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 the following: (1) assembler with 4, 700 such jobs in Arkansas and 229, 000 such jobs in the United States; (2) telephone quotation clerk with 8, 800 such jobs in Arkansas and 597, 000 such jobs in the United States; and (3) escort vehicle driver with 6, 200 such jobs in Arkansas and 780, 000 such jobs in the United States. Id. Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this work, the ALJ also determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from October 1, 2013 through the date of the decision. (Tr. 140, Finding 11).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested a review by the Appeals Council. (Tr. 128). On August 8, 2016, the Appeals Council denied this request. (Tr. 1-4). On September 2, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present appeal with this Court. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on September 6, 2016. ECF No. 7. This case is now ripe for determination.

         2. Applicable Law:

         In 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 ...


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