United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Yates (“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. 5. 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 August 22, 2013. (Tr. 36).
Plaintiff alleged she was disabled due to chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease (COPD), osteoporosis, hernia,
gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), and problems with
her lungs, bladder, and feet. (Tr. 157). Plaintiff alleged an
onset date of June 1, 2012. (Tr. 36). This application was
denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 63-74,
76-88). Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative
hearing on her application. (Tr. 97).
administrative hearing was held on August 25, 2015. (Tr.
48-61). Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel,
Greg Giles, at this hearing. Id. Plaintiff and
Vocational Expert (“VE”) Dale Thomas testified at
this hearing. Id. At the time of this hearing,
Plaintiff was fifty-seven (57) years old and had obtained a
GED. (Tr. 60, 158).
October 16, 2015, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff's applications for DIB. (Tr. 36-43). In
this decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured
status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2017.
(Tr. 38, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff had
not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since June 1, 2012, the alleged onset
date. (Tr. 38, Finding 2).
determined Plaintiff had the severe impairments of
osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease, asthma, COPD, and
obesity. (Tr. 38, 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. 39, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 39-43). 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 with no more
than occasional balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching,
crawling, and climbing of ramps and stairs; never climb
ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; and should avoid concentrated
exposure to fumes, odors, dusts, gases, and poor ventilation.
(Tr. 39, Finding 5).
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 42, Finding 6). The ALJ found
Plaintiff was capable of performing her PRW as a
teacher's aide. Id. Based upon this finding, the
ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability as
defined by the Act from June 1, 2012 through the date of the
decision. (Tr. 43, Finding 7).
September 20, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF
No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this
Court. ECF No. 5. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF
Nos. 9, 11. 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. §§
404.1520(a)-(f). The fact finder only considers the
plaintiff's age, education, and work experience in light
of his or her RFC if the final stage of this analysis is
reached. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520,