United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Rhuava Antonio (“Plaintiff”) brings this action
under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of a
final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“SSA”) denying her claim for a
period of disability, disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”), and supplemental security income
(“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI of the Social
Security Act (“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 applications for DIB and
SSI on October 30, 2013. (ECF No. 10, pp. 13). In her
applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to:
hepatitis type C, depression, cirrhosis of the liver,
jaundice, weakness, anxiety, and ascites. (ECF No. 10, p.
205). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of January 1, 2013.
(ECF No. 10, pp. 13, 200). These applications were denied
initially and again upon reconsideration. (ECF No. 10, pp.
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied
applications, and this hearing request was granted. (ECF No.
10, pp. 140-58). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was
held on May 4, 2015, in Little Rock, Arkansas. (ECF No. 10,
pp. 28-46). Plaintiff was present and was represented by Hans
E. Pullen. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Mack Welsh testified. Id. At the
time of this hearing, Plaintiff was forty-eight (48) years
old, which is defined as a “younger person” under
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1563(c), 416.963(c). As for her
level of education, Plaintiff earned a high school diploma
and completed three years of college. (ECF No. 10, p. 31).
this hearing, on August 7, 2015, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications for
DIB and SSI. (ECF No. 10, pp. 9-22). In this decision, the
ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of
the Act through March 31, 2017. (ECF No. 10, p. 14, Finding
1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial
Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since January 1, 2013,
her alleged onset date. (ECF No. 10, p. 14, Finding 2). The
ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: liver disease, mood disorder, neck pain, status
post cervical corpectomy, and hepatitis C. (ECF No. 10, p.
14, 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 Part 404 (“Listings”).
(ECF No. 10, pp. 14-16, Finding 4).
then considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (ECF No. 10, pp. 16-20, 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 sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 416.967(a)
except [she] can occasionally climb, balance, stoop, bend,
crouch, kneel, or crawl; she can perform work in a setting
where interpersonal contact is incidental to the work
performed, the complexity of the task is learned and
performed by rote, with few variables, little judgment, and
the supervision required is simple, direct, and concrete.
then determined Plaintiff was unable to perform her Past
Relevant Work (“PRW”). (ECF No. 10, p. 20,
Finding 6). The VE testified at the administrative hearing
regarding this issue. (ECF No. 10, pp. 40-45). Based on
Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC, the
ALJ determined there were jobs existing in significant
numbers in the national economy Plaintiff could perform, such
as a charge account clerk, which has a DOT code of
205.367-014, with approximately one thousand one hundred (1,
100) jobs in the national economy, and as a ceramic tile
inspector, which has a DOT code of 739.687-182, with
approximately thirty thousand (30, 000) jobs in the national
economy. (ECF No. 10, pp. 20-21, Finding 10). Because jobs
exist in significant numbers in the national economy which
Plaintiff can perform, the ALJ also determined Plaintiff had
not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from
January 1, 2013, through August 7, 2015, the date of the
ALJ's decision. (ECF No. 10, p. 21, Finding 11).
on August 19, 2015, Plaintiff requested review of the hearing
decision by the Appeals Council. (ECF No. 10, p. 8). The
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request on September
12, 2016. (ECF No. 10, pp. 5-7). On October 11, 2016,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal with this Court. (ECF No.
1). The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court
on October 27, 2016. (ECF No. 7). This case is now ready for
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 there is substantial evidence in the record to support 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), 1382c(a)(3)(D). A plaintiff must show his or her
disability, not simply his or her impairment, has lasted for
at least twelve consecutive months. see 42 U.S.C.
§§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A).
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 there are other
jobs in the national economy the claimant can perform.
see Cox, 160 F.3d at 1206; 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4). 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. §§