United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Ramirez ("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.
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 July 8,
2013. (Tr. 8). In her application, Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due to drug and alcohol addiction, arthritis, and
anxiety. (Tr. 191). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of July
8, 2013. (Tr. 8). This application was denied initially and
again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 50-85).
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied
application. (Tr. 104-106). The ALJ granted that request and
held an administrative hearing on January 6, 2015 in Hot
Springs, Arkansas. (Tr. 24-49). At that hearing, Plaintiff as
present and was represented by Hans Pullen. Id.
Plaintiff and Vocational Expert ("VE") Mack Welch
testified at this hearing. Id. At this hearing,
Plaintiff testified she was forty-six (46) years old, which
is defined as a "younger person" under 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.963(c). (Tr. 29). As for his level of education,
Plaintiff testified she had obtained her GED. Id.
this hearing, on May 14, 2015, the ALJ entered an unfavorable
decision denying Plaintiffs disability application. (Tr.
5-18). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff had not
engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity ("SGA")
since July 8, 2013, her application date. (Tr. 10, Finding
1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine
status post fusion at ¶ 6-7; mild degenerative disc
disease of the lumbar spine; fibromyalgia; carpal tunnel
syndrome; affective disorder; and anxiety disorder. (Tr. 10,
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.
10-12, Finding 3).
considered Plaintiffs Residual Functional Capacity
("RFC"). (Tr. 12-16, Finding 4). First, the ALJ
evaluated Plaintiffs subjective complaints and found her
claimed limitations were not entirely credible. Id.
Second, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the RFC to
perform the following:
The claimant retains the residual functional capacity to lift
and carry 10 pounds occasionally and less than 10 pounds
frequently; stand and/or walk six hours in an eight-hour
workday; sit for six hours in an eight-hour workday; and
push/or pull 10 pounds occasionally and less than 10 pounds
frequently. She can occasionally reach overhead with both
left and right arms. The claimant retains the mental ability
to understand, remember and carryout simple job instructions;
make judgments in simple work related situations; respond
appropriately to co-workers/supervisors with occasional
incidental contact that is not necessary to perform the work;
respond appropriately to minor changes in usual work routine;
and have no dealings with the general public.
then evaluated Plaintiffs Past Relevant Work
("PRW") and found Plaintiff has no PRW. (Tr. 16,
Finding 5). The ALJ also considered whether Plaintiff
retained the capacity to perform other work existing in
significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 17-18,
Finding 9). The VE testified at the administrative hearing
regarding this issue. Id.
upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained
the capacity to perform occupations such as the following
(sedentary, unskilled): (1) inspector checker (ceramic tile
inspector) with 30, 000 such jobs in the nation, 6, 000 such
jobs in the region, and 700 such jobs in the state; and (2)
inspector checker (circuit board inspector) with 35, 000 such
jobs in the nation, 7, 000 such jobs in the region, and 700
such jobs in the state. (Tr. 17-18, Finding 9). 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, from July 8, 2013 (application date)
through May 14, 2015 (ALJ's decision date). (Tr. 18,
Plaintiff requested a review by the Appeals Council. (Tr. 4).
On June 6, 2016, the Appeals Council denied this request.
(Tr. 1-3). Thereafter, on August 8, 2016, Plaintiff appealed
the ALJ's unfavorable decision to this Court. ECF No. 1.
The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on
August 9, 2016. ECF No. 7. Both Parties have filed appeal
briefs. ECF Nos. 11-12. This case is now ripe for