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Harvey v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

July 17, 2017

RITA LYNNE HARVEY PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Rita Lynne Harvey (“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 Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title 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. 9.[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 application on July 6, 2011. (Tr. 11, 105-115). In her application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to depression, anxiety attacks, obesity, insomnia, and knee problems. (Tr. 129). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of September 1, 2006. (Tr. 11). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 44-45).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied application. (Tr. 59- 60). The ALJ granted that request and held an administrative hearing in Hot Springs, Arkansas on September 13, 2012. (Tr. 25-43). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Hans Pullen. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) testified at this hearing. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff testified she was fort-six (46) years old, which is defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(e) (2008). (Tr. 30). As for her level of education, Plaintiff testified she had graduated from high school. (Tr. 32).

         After this hearing, on November 26, 2012, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's SSI application. (Tr. 8-20). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since July 6, 2011, her application date. (Tr. 13, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: osteoarthritis of the hip, back disorder, morbid obesity, and mood disorder. (Tr. 13, Finding 2). 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. 13-15, Finding 3).

         The ALJ considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 15-19, Finding 4). 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:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(a). However, she is able to only occasionally climb stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl and should never climb ladders. Further, the claimant cannot sustain work without the option to sit or stand at will. She is able to perform work where interpersonal contact is incidental to the work being performed; where the complexity of a task is learned and performed by rote, with few variables, and with little judgment; and, she is able to work where supervision required is simple, direct and concrete.

Id.

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and found Plaintiff had no PRW. (Tr. 19, Finding 5). The ALJ also considered whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 19-20, Finding 9). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id.

         Based upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform an occupation such as the following: assembler (sedentary) with 1, 000 such jobs in the region and 60, 000 such jobs in the nation. (Tr. 19-20). Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this other work, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined in the Act, from July 6, 2011 (application date) through November 26, 2012 (ALJ's decision date). (Tr. 20, Finding 10).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested a review by the Appeals Council. (Tr. 1-3). On November 21, 2013, the Appeals Council denied this request. (Tr. 1-3). On August 12, 2016, Plaintiff filed the current appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on August 30, 2016. ECF No. 9. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 12-13. This case is ripe for determination.

         2.Applicable ...


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