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Davis v. Berryhill

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

January 31, 2018

LOU DAVIS PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Lou Davis (“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. 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 application on June 20, 2013. (Tr. 11). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to knee pain, back pain, high blood pressure, and pancreatitis. (Tr. 133). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of July 15, 2008. (Tr. 11). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 53-65).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on March 19, 2014. (Tr. 91). This request was granted, and Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on December 8, 2014 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. (Tr. 26-52). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present an was represented by Shannon Muse Carroll. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) David Elmore testified at this hearing. Id. During this hearing, Plaintiff testified she fifty-three (53) years old, which is defined as a “person closely approaching advanced age” under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c). (Tr. 31). As for her education, Plaintiff testified she had completed high school. (Tr. 31).

         On March 19, 2015, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's SSI application. (Tr. 8-21). In this decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since June 20, 2013, her application date. (Tr. 13, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: lumbar spine degenerative disc disease, status post discectomy; pancreatitis; arthropathy, status post left knee total knee arthroplasty; hypertension and restless leg syndrome. (Tr. 13, Finding 2). 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. 13, Finding 3).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 13-18, Finding 4). 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 light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except the work could not require climbing ladders, ropes, scaffolds or kneeling; not more than occasional performance of each remaining postural function beyond that (climbing ramps and stairs, balancing, stooping, crouching, and crawling[)]. Further, the work could not require foot control operations for the left lower extremity.
Id.

         Considering her RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff did not retain the capacity to perform any of her PRW. (Tr. 18, Finding 5). The ALJ then determined whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 19, Finding 9). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id.

         Based upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the requirements of representative occupations such as production assembler (light, unskilled) with 6, 000 such jobs in Arkansas and 180, 000 such jobs in the nation; and poultry deboner (light, unskilled) with 2, 000 such jobs in Arkansas and 75, 000 such jobs in the nation. 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 application date of June 20, 2013 through the date of the ALJ's decision or through March 19, 2015. (Tr. 20, Finding 10).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. (Tr. 5-7). On September 23, 2016, the Appeals Council denied her request for review. (Tr. 1-4). On October 24, 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. 7, 12-13. This case is now ready for decision.

         2.Applicable ...


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