United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Wagner (“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 a period of disability
under Titles II and XVI of 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. 4. 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 on November
17, 2014 (DIB) and on December 1, 2014 (SSI). (Tr. 11,
241-249). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due to migraines, back problems, neck problems, feet
problems, high blood pressure, a mini stroke, asthma,
“female pain issues, ” obesity, and “gray
matter effects motor skills.” (Tr. 265). Plaintiff
alleges an onset date of April 20, 2013. (Tr. 11). These
applications were denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 192-197).
requested an administrative hearing on her applications. (Tr.
197). This request was granted, and Plaintiff's
administrative hearing was held on September 4, 2015 in Fort
Smith, Arkansas. (Tr. 34-88). At this hearing, Plaintiff was
present and was represented by Michael Hamby. Id.
Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Floyd
Massey 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. §
416.963(c) (SSI). (Tr. 40). As for her education, Plaintiff
testified she had obtained her GED. (Tr. 42-43).
November 17, 2015, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ
entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's
applications. (Tr. 8-27). The ALJ determined Plaintiff met
the insured status requirements of the Act through March 31,
2016. (Tr. 13, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had
not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since April 20, 2013, her alleged onset
date. (Tr. 13, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had
the following severe impairments: morbid obesity; migraines;
hypertensive vascular disease; cervical, thoracic, and lumbar
degenerative disease; plantar fasciitis; GERD; diabetes
mellitus; asthma “and/or” mild persistent
reactive airway disease; obstructive sleep apnea; major
depressive disorder; and anxiety. (Tr. 13-15, 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. 15-17, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 17-25, 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, I find that
the claimant has the residual functional capacity to lift up
to 20 pounds occasionally, lift or carry up to 10 pounds
frequently, stand and/or walk up to two of eight hours or sit
up to six hours with normal breaks; no climbing ladders,
ropes or scaffolds; occasionally climb entry ramps and
stairs; frequently balance; occasionally stoop, kneel and
crouch; never crawl; avoid concentrated exposure to moving
machinery or unprotected heights; no concentrated to exposure
to extremes of heat/cold/wetness/humidity; no concentrated
exposure to chemicals, fumes, dust, and other pulmonary
irritants; frequently handle and finger bilaterally; can
understand, remember, and carry out simple, routine and
repetitive tasks but not at a production rate pace (e.g.
assembly line work); can perform simple work-related
decisions, use judgment, accept instructions; and can respond
appropriately to changes in routine work settings.
her RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff did not retain the
capacity to perform any of her PRW. (Tr. 25, Finding 6). The
ALJ then determined whether Plaintiff retained the capacity
to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the
national economy. (Tr. 26-27, Finding 10). The VE testified
at the administrative hearing regarding this issue.
Id. Based upon this testimony, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the requirements
of representative occupations such document preparer with 14,
425 such jobs in the national economy. Id. 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, from her alleged onset date of April
20, 2013 through the date of her decision or through November
17, 2015. (Tr. 27, Finding 11).
sought review with the Appeals Council. (Tr. 6). On October
6, 2016, the Appeals Council denied her request for review.
(Tr. 1-4). On November 8, 2016, Plaintiff filed her Complaint
in this action. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal
briefs and have consented to the jurisdiction of this Court.
ECF Nos. 4, 10-11. 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) (2010); 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 ...