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Boatman v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

October 17, 2017

MELISSA BOATMAN PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Melissa Boatman (“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 a period of disability, Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”), and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) 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. 7. 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 January 8, 2013. (Tr. 24, 274-288). In her applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. (Tr. 339). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of January 1, 2011. (Tr. 24). Her applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 81-130).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on September 24, 2013. (Tr. 152). This hearing request was granted, and Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on April 15, 2015 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. (Tr. 41-80). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present but was not represented by counsel. Id. Plaintiff, Vocational Expert (“VE”) Stephanie Ford, and a witness for Plaintiff testified at this hearing. Id. During this hearing, Plaintiff testified she was forty-four (44) 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. 50). As for her education, Plaintiff testified she started the twelfth grade in school but did not graduate. Id.

         On June 11, 2015, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications. (Tr. 21-35). The ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2016. (Tr. 26, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since January 1, 2011, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 26, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. (Tr. 26-27, 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. 27-28, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 28-33, 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 a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations: The claimant is limited to simple, routine work with simple instructions and only occasional contact with supervisors, coworkers, and the general public.

Id.

         The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and found Plaintiff was unable to perform any of her PRW. (Tr. 33-34, Finding 6). The ALJ then considered whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 34-35, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id.

         Based upon this testimony and considering her RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the following occupations: (1) dishwasher (medium, unskilled) with 18, 000 such jobs in the region and 191, 000 such jobs in the nation; and (2) housekeeper (light, unskilled) with 13, 000 such jobs in the region and 132, 000 such jobs in the nation. (Tr. 34). 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 January 1, 2011 through the date of her decision or through June 11, 2015. (Tr. 35, Finding 11).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. On September 1, 2016, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-4). On October 11, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this case. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs and have consented to the jurisdiction of this Court. ECF Nos. 7, 11-12. This case is now ready for determination.

         2. Ap ...


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