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Sharp v. Berryhill

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

January 19, 2018

DELORIS SHARP PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Deloris Sharp (“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 a period of disability under Title II 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 application on December 16, 2013. (Tr. 14). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to Grave's disease, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, memory problems, arthritis in her neck, severe pain in feet and legs, numbness and tingling in her arms, hip pain, generalized pain through the body, difficulty thinking, two ruptured discs in her neck, and vision problems. (Tr. 222). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of September 25, 2013. (Tr. 14). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 76-112).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on December 18, 2014. (Tr. 123). This request was granted, and Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on August 28, 2015 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. (Tr. 32-75). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Hans Pullen. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) William David Elmore testified at this hearing. Id. During this hearing, Plaintiff testified she was fifty-six (56) years old, which is defined as a “person of advanced age” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(e) (DIB). (Tr. 36). As for her education, Plaintiff testified she had completed high school and one year of college. (Tr. 38).

         On November 17, 2015, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's DIB application. (Tr. 11-26). The ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2018. (Tr. 16, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since September 25, 2013, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 16, Finding 2).

         The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: Grave's disease, degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine, fibromyalgia, temporomandibular joint dysfunction (“TMJ”) with low facial spasms, and carpal tunnel syndrome. (Tr. 16-18, 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. 18-19, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 19-24, 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 sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) except the claimant can occasionally balance, climb, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl and can frequently reach, grasp, handle, and finger.

Id.

         Considering her RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff did not retain the capacity to perform any of her PRW. (Tr. 24, Finding 6). The ALJ then determined whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 25, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. (Tr. 32-75).

         Based upon this testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the requirements of representative occupations such as billing and posting clerk jobs (sedentary, semiskilled) with 225, 000 such jobs in the nation and 2, 000 such jobs in the State of Arkansas. (Tr. 25). 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 September 25, 2013 through the ALJ's decision date of November 17, 2015. (Tr. 25, Finding 11).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. (Tr. 7-8). On October 13, 2016, the Appeals Council denied her request for review. (Tr. 1-4). On November 9, 2016, Plaintiff filed her Complaint in this action. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs and have consented to the ...


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