United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
MICHELLE L. NEWKIRK PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
L. Newkirk (“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 applications for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”), Supplemental Security
Income (“SSI”), and a period of disability under
Titles II and 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. 6. 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 on June 14,
2013 (DIB) and on June 27, 2013 (SSI). (Tr. 15). In her
applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to high
blood pressure, back surgery, and herniated discs. (Tr. 219).
Plaintiff alleges an onset date of June 30, 2012. (Tr. 15).
These applications were denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 86-89).
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied
applications. (Tr. 131-132). The ALJ granted that request and
held an administrative hearing on December 3, 2014 in
Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Tr. 32-67). At this hearing,
Plaintiff was present and was represented by Devon Brady.
Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Norman A. Mastbaum testified at this
this hearing, on January 12, 2015, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's disability
applications. (Tr. 12-26). In this decision, the ALJ found
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act
through December 31, 2017. (Tr. 17, Finding 1). The ALJ
determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful
Activity (“SGA”) since June 30, 2012, her alleged
onset date. (Tr. 17, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff
had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc
disease of the lumbar spine, osteoarthritis, hypertension,
and obesity. (Tr. 18, 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. 18, Finding 4).
determined Plaintiff was fifty (50) years old on her alleged
disability onset date, which is defined as an
“individual closely approaching advanced age.”
(Tr. 24, Finding 7). As for her level of education, the ALJ
determined she had a limited education but was able to
communicate in English. (Tr. 24, Findings 7-8).
then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (Tr. 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 the following:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b); except claimant must be able
to stand for ten minutes after every fifty minutes of
sitting, and must be able to sit for fifteen minutes after
every fort-five minutes of standing or walking. She may never
climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; and may only occasionally
climb ramps and stairs, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl.
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”) and found Plaintiff was unable to perform
her PRW. (Tr. 24, Finding 6). 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 10). 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:
(1) park lot cashier (light, unskilled) with 1, 100 such jobs
in the state and 60, 000 such jobs in the nation; (2) folder
or bagger in the laundry business (light, unskilled) with 400
such jobs in the state and 15, 000 such jobs in the nation;
and (3) paper folding machine operator (light, unskilled)
with 820 such jobs in state and 106, 000 such jobs in the
nation. (Tr. 25). 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 June 30,
2012 through the date of his decision or through January 12,
2015. (Tr. 26, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested a review by the Appeals Council. (Tr.
6-10). On June 10, 2016, the Appeals Council denied this
request. (Tr. 1-3). On August 15, 2016, Plaintiff filed the
present appeal with the Court. ECF No. 1. The Parties
consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on August 17,
2016. ECF No. 6. ...