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Monts v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

November 7, 2017

GINGER BILL MONTS PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Ginger Bill Monts (“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 application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and period of disability under Title II of the Act for the closed period of her alleged onset date of May 31, 2013 through March 17, 2015, the date the ALJ found Plaintiff became disabled.

         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 application on March 19, 2013. (Tr. 12). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to diabetes and inflammatory osteoarthritis. (Tr. 230). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of May 31, 2013. (Tr. 12). Her application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 54-84).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied application. (Tr. 103-104). This hearing request was granted, and Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on July 13, 2015 in Texarkana, Arkansas. (Tr. 24-53). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Greg Giles. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Mary May testified at this hearing. Id. During this hearing, Plaintiff testified she was fifty-nine (59) years old, which is defined as a “person of advanced age” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(e). (Tr. 30). As for her education, Plaintiff testified she completed the twelfth grade in school. (Tr. 31).

         On October 22, 2015, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a partially unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for the period from May 31, 2013 through March 17, 2015. (Tr. 8-19). The ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2017. (Tr. 14, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since May 31, 2013. (Tr. 14, Finding 2). The ALJ determined that since her alleged onset date of disability (May 31, 2013), Plaintiff has had the following severe impairments: diabetes mellitus; osteoarthritis; obesity; and hypertension. (Tr. 14-15, Finding 3). The ALJ determined that, beginning on her established disability date of March 17, 2015, Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: coronary artery disease, status post coronary artery bypass graft; diabetes mellitus; osteoarthritis; obesity; and hypertension. Id.

         The ALJ also determined since her alleged onset date of May 31, 2013, Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that 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. 15, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”), as of her alleged onset date and again as of March 17, 2015 (the date the ALJ found her to be disabled). (Tr. 15-16, Findings 5-6). Specifically, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following RFC prior to March 17, 2015:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that prior to March 17, 2015, the date the claimant became disabled, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b).

Id. The ALJ also found that beginning March 17, 2015, Plaintiff only retained the RFC to perform the full range of sedentary work. (Tr. 17, Finding 6).

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's ability to perform her Past Relevant Work (“PRW”), both prior to and after March 17, 2015. (Tr. 17-18, Findings 7-8). The ALJ determined that prior to March 17, 2015, Plaintiff was capable of performing her PRW as a paraprofessional. (Tr. 17, Finding 7). The ALJ also determined that beginning on March 17, 2015, Plaintiff's RFC prevented her from being to able to perform her PRW. (Tr. 18, Finding 8).

         Based upon these findings, the ALJ determined that since March 17, 2015, considering her age, education, work experience, and RFC, there were no jobs Plaintiff could perform that exist in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 18, Finding 12). Thus, the ALJ determined she was disabled after March 17, 2015. Id. However, the ALJ also determined Plaintiff was not disabled prior to March 17, 2015. (Tr. 18, Finding 13).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council on November 10, 2015. (Tr. 5-7). On October 7, 2016, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-3). On November 1, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this case. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs and have consented to the ...


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