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Jones v. Berryhill

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

January 29, 2018

TALONNA G. JONES PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Talonna G. Jones (“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 Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title 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. 5.[1] 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 July 30, 2013. (Tr. 22). In this application, Plaintiff alleges she was disabled due to mental problems and depression. (Tr. 205). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of January 2, 2010. (Tr. 22). This application was denied initially and again on reconsideration. (Tr. 69-81).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 106-116). An administrative hearing was held on September 1, 2015 in Harrison, Arkansas. (Tr. 39-68). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Frederick Spencer. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Jim Spraggins testified at this hearing. Id. On the date of this hearing, Plaintiff was twenty-seven (27) years old, which is defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c) (SSI), and testified she had completed high school with special education classes. (Tr. 44).

         On September 19, 2015, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision on Plaintiff's disability application. (Tr. 19-33). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since July 30, 2013, her application date. (Tr. 24, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: morbid obesity, depression, and anxiety. (Tr. 24, Finding 2). The ALJ, however, also determined Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 24-26, Finding 3).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 26-31, Finding 4). First, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined they were not entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the RFC for the following:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except she can perform work that is limited to simple, routine, and repetitive tasks involving only simple, work-related decisions with few, if any, workplace changes and no more than occasional contact with coworkers, supervisors, and the general public.

Id.

         The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and determined she had no PRW. (Tr. 31, Finding 5). The ALJ did, however, determine Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 32-33, Finding 9). The ALJ based this determination upon the testimony of the VE. Id.

         Specifically, the VE testified that a hypothetical person with Plaintiff's limitations retained the capacity to perform work such as the following: (1) price marker (light, unskilled) with 4, 300 such jobs in Arizona and 496, 000 such jobs in the nation; (2) plastics molding machine tender (light, unskilled) with 2, 400 such jobs in Arizona and 168, 000 such jobs in the nation; and (3) routing clerk (light, unskilled) with 800 such jobs in Arizona and 74, 000 such jobs in the nation. (Tr. 32-33, Finding 9). Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was not under a “disability, ” as defined by the Act, at any time through the date of his decision. (Tr. 33, Finding 10).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested that the Appeals Council reviewed the ALJ's unfavorable disability determination. (Tr. 18). On September 6, 2016, the Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's disability determination. (Tr. 1-4). On October 14, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on October 17, 2016. ECF No. 5. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 11-12. This case is now ready for decision.

         2. Ap ...


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