United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Hunter (“Plaintiff”) brings this action under 42
U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of a final
decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“SSA”) denying her claim for a
period of disability, disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”), and supplemental security income
(“SSI”) benefits under Titles II and XVI of the
Social Security Act (“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. 5). 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 applications for DIB and
SSI on June 25, 2013. (ECF No. 10, pp. 14, 219). In her
applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (“COPD”) and
post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”). (ECF No.
10, p. 223). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of March 2,
2009. (ECF No. 10, pp. 14, 219). These applications were
denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (ECF No. 10,
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied
applications, and this hearing request was granted. (ECF No.
10, pp. 140-76). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was
held on October 2, 2014, in Little Rock, Arkansas. (ECF No.
10, pp. 32-68). Plaintiff was present and was represented by
Shannon Carroll. Id. Plaintiff and VE Dianne Smith
testified at this hearing. Id. At the time of this
hearing, Plaintiff was forty-seven (47) years old, which is
defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1563(c), 416.963(c). (ECF No. 10, p. 36). As
for her level of education, Plaintiff completed the eighth
grade. (ECF No. 10, p. 36).
this hearing, on January 28, 2015, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications for
DIB and SSI. (ECF No. 10, pp. 11-26). In this decision, the
ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of
the Act through June 30, 2014. (ECF No. 10, p. 16, Finding
1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial
Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since March 2, 2009, her
alleged onset date. (ECF No. 10, p. 16, Finding 2). The ALJ
determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
COPD, carpal tunnel syndrome status-post bilateral release
surgery, degenerative disc disease, PTSD, major depressive
disorder, schizophrenia, and unknown substance addiction.
(ECF No. 10, pp. 16-17, 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 Part 404
(“Listings”). (ECF No. 10, pp. 17-19, Finding 4).
then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (ECF No. 10, pp. 19-24, 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 RFC to perform:
sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and
416.967(a) except she can occasionally stoop, crouch, kneel,
crawl, and balance. She is unable to work with ropes,
ladders, or scaffolding. She is unable to tolerate excessive
exposure to dust, smoke, fumes, and other pulmonary
irritants. Non-exertionally, she is limited to work which is
simple, routine, and repetitive with supervision, which is
simple, direct, and concrete. She can maintain occasional
contact with coworkers and supervisors, but no contact with
the public. [Plaintiff] is limited to frequent fingering and
then determined Plaintiff had no Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (ECF No. 10, p. 24, Finding 6). The VE
testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue.
(ECF No. 10, pp. 63-67). Based on Plaintiff's age,
education, work experience, and RFC, the ALJ determined there
were jobs existing in significant numbers in the national
economy Plaintiff could perform, such as a compact assembler,
which has a DOT code of 739.687-066, with approximately
thirty-five thousand (35, 000) jobs in the national economy
and two thousand one hundred (2, 100) jobs in the regional
economy, and as a bonder, which has a DOT code of
766.685-066, with approximately twenty thousand (20, 000)
jobs in the national economy and two thousand five hundred
(2, 500) jobs in the regional economy. (ECF No. 10, p. 25,
Finding 10). Because jobs exist in significant numbers in the
national economy which Plaintiff can perform, the ALJ also
determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as
defined by the Act, from March 2, 2009, through January 28,
2015, the date of the ALJ's decision. (ECF No. 10, p. 25,
on February 18, 2015, Plaintiff requested review of the
hearing decision by the Appeals Council. (ECF No. 10, pp.
8-10). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request on
April 20, 2016. (ECF No. 10, pp. 5-7). On May 19, 2016,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal with this Court. (ECF No.
1). The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court
on May 20, 2016. (ECF No. 5). This case is now ready for
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 ...