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Hogue v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division

August 14, 2017

CRYSTAL LEE ELLEN HOGUE PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Crystal Lee Ellen Hogue (“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 Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”), and period of disability under Titles II and 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. 5. 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 applications on November 13, 2013 (DIB) and on January 22, 2014 (SSI). (Tr. 120). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to fibromyalgia, an enlarged heart, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, osteoporosis in her neck and left hip, being flat footed, carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists, joint stiffness in her fingers, nervousness, depression, migraines, anxiety and stress, light sensitivity, “sinking ear drums, ” vertigo, fatigue, hearing loss. (Tr. 336). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of October 21, 2013. (Tr. 120). Her applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 166-227).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied applications. (Tr. 250-251). This request was granted, and Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on September 17, 2015 in Alexandria, Louisiana. (Tr. 117-119). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Mary Thomason. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Thomas D. Magall testified at this hearing. Id. During this hearing, Plaintiff testified she was forty-three (43) years old, which is defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (DIB) and 20 C.F.R. § 416.965(c) (SSI). (Tr. 142). As for her education, Plaintiff testified she had completed high school. (Tr. 144).

         On October 20, 2015, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications. (Tr. 117-133). The ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2018. (Tr. 122, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since October 21, 2013, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 122, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, early degenerative changes of the left knee, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, tendonitis of the right wrist, degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine, degenerative joint disease of the shoulders, hyperthyroidism, obesity, panic disorder, major depressive disorder, and borderline personality disorder. (Tr. 122-123, Finding 3). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff's 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. 123-126, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 126-131, 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 capacity 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 she is able to perform no other-the-shoulder work and is unable to work around hazards; she is able to perform the mental demands of work that is not complex and that requires only occasional interaction with the general public.

Id.

         The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and found Plaintiff did not retain the capacity to perform any of her PRW. (Tr. 131, Finding 6). The ALJ then considered whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 132, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id.

         Based upon this testimony and considering his RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the following medium, unskilled occupations: (1) office helper (light, unskilled) with 10, 942 such jobs in the national economy and (2) light housekeeping cleaner (light, unskilled) with 229, 918 such jobs in the national economy. (Tr. 132). 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, at any time from October 21, 2013 through the date of his decision or through October 20, 2015. (Tr. 133, Finding 11).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. On August 26, 2016, the Appeals Council denied her request for review. (Tr. 1-3). On September 16, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in her case. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs and have consented to the jurisdiction of this Court. ECF Nos. 5, 13-14. This case is now ready for determination.

         2. Ap ...


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