United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Sengsirivanh (“Plaintiff”) brings this action
pursuant to § 205(g) of Title II of the Social Security
Act (“The Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2006),
seeking judicial review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) denying her application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II 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. 6. Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
application for DIB was filed on February 25, 2013. (Tr. 29).
Plaintiff alleged she was disabled due to carpal tunnel
syndrome, arthritis, headaches, foot pain, body pain and
numbness. (Tr. 235, 259, 270). Plaintiff alleged an onset
date of September 1, 2012 which was later amended to February
22, 2013. (Tr. 29). These applications were denied initially
and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 76-81, 83-90).
Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on
her application and this hearing request was granted. (Tr.
administrative hearing was held on March 19, 2014. (Tr.
46-74). Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel,
Fred Caddell, at the hearings. Id. Plaintiff, her
friend, and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Jim Spragins
testified at the hearings. Id. At the time of the
hearings, Plaintiff was thirty-nine (39) years old and had a
middle school education. (Tr. 50-51).
11, 2015, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying
Plaintiff's application for DIB. (Tr. 29-40). In this
decision, the ALJ determined the Plaintiff met the insured
status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2017.
(Tr. 31, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff had
not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since February 22, 2013. (Tr. 31, Finding
determined Plaintiff had the severe impairments of multiple
joint pain, vitamin D deficiency, very mild chronic bilateral
carpal tunnel syndrome, status post surgery, history of
cervical radiculopathy, idiopathic peripheral neuropathy and
plantar fasciitis. (Tr. 31, Finding 3). The ALJ then
determined Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or
medically equal the requirements of any of the Listing of
Impairments in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Regulations No. 4
(“Listings”). (Tr. 32, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 32-38). 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 light work, except she
can frequent, but not constant, handling and fingering
bilaterally, and must avoid concentrated exposure to cold and
wetness. (Tr. 32, Finding 5).
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 38, Finding 6). The ALJ found
Plaintiff was unable of performing her PRW. Id. The
ALJ, however, also determined there was other work existing
in significant numbers in the national economy Plaintiff
could perform. (Tr. 38-39, Finding 10). The ALJ based this
determination upon the testimony of the VE. Id.
Specifically, the VE testified that given all Plaintiff's
vocational factors, a hypothetical individual would be able
to perform the requirements of a representative occupation
such as machine molding tender with 114 such jobs statewide
and 7, 226 such jobs in the nation and production worker with
502 such jobs state wide and 29, 292 such jobs in the nation.
Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff had not been under a disability as defined by the
Act from February 22, 2013 through the date of the decision.
(Tr. 39, Finding 11).
exhausted all administrative remedies, and on August 9, 2016,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties
consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on August 11,
2016. ECF No. 6. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF
Nos. 13, 16. 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) (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
represents the findings of the ALJ, the decision of the ALJ
must be affirmed. See Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065,
1068 (8th Cir. 2000).
well established that a claimant for Social Security
disability benefits has the burden of proving his or her
disability by establishing a physical or mental disability
that lasted at least one year and that prevents him or her
from engaging in any substantial gainful activity. See
Cox v. Apfel, 160 F.3d 1203, 1206 (8th Cir. 1998); 42
U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). The Act
defines a “physical or mental impairment” as
“an impairment that results from anatomical,
physiological, or psychological abnormalities which are
demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory
diagnostic techniques.” 42 U.S.C. §§
423(d)(3), 1382(3)(c). A plaintiff must show that his or her
disability, not simply his or her impairment, has lasted for
at least twelve consecutive months. See 42 U.S.C.
determine whether the adult claimant suffers from a
disability, the Commissioner uses the familiar five-step
sequential evaluation. He determines: (1) whether the
claimant is presently engaged in a “substantial gainful
activity”; (2) whether the claimant has a severe
impairment that significantly limits the claimant's
physical or mental ability to perform basic work activities;
(3) whether the claimant has an impairment that meets or
equals a presumptively disabling impairment listed in the
regulations (if so, the claimant is disabled without regard
to age, education, and work experience); (4) whether the
claimant has the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to
perform his or her past relevant work; and (5) if the
claimant cannot perform the past work, the burden shifts to
the Commissioner to prove that there are other jobs in the
national economy that the claimant can perform. See
Cox, 160 F.3d at 1206; 20 C.F.R. ...