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Warner v. Berryhill

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

February 6, 2018

ANNETTE WARNER PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Annette Warner (“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 a period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) 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 January 3, 2014. (Tr. 61). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to degenerative disc disease from a neck injury, arthritis, and high blood pressure. (Tr. 144). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of August 15, 2012. (Tr. 61). Her application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 36-46).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied application. (Tr. 90-91). This hearing request was granted, and Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on September 15, 2015 in Texarkana, Arkansas. (Tr. 9-35). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Greg Giles. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Mr. Rowsey[1] testified at this hearing. Id. During this hearing, Plaintiff testified she was forty-seven (47) years old, which is defined as a “younger person” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (2008). (Tr. 14-15). As for her education, Plaintiff testified she had obtained her GED. (Tr. 14).

         On November 24, 2015, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's DIB application. (Tr. 58-70). The ALJ determined Plaintiff last met the insured status requirements of the Act on June 30, 2015. (Tr. 63, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) from her alleged onset date of August 15, 2012 through her date last insured of June 30, 2015. (Tr. 63, Finding 2). The ALJ determined, through the date last insured, Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine status-post fusion, degenerative joint disease status-post total arthroplasty, right wrist fusion status-post remote trauma and surgery. (Tr. 63, Finding 3). The ALJ determined that, through her date last insured, 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. 65, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 65-68, Finding 5). First, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff' subjective complaints and found they were not entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following RFC:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that, through the date last insured, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) except that she can use either upper extremity occasionally to reach overhead and would be limited to frequent but not constant use of the non-dominant right upper extremity for handling and fingering.

         Id.

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's ability to perform to perform her Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 69, Finding 6). Specifically, the ALJ found that, through her date last insured, Plaintiff was unable to perform any of her PRW. (Tr. 69, Finding 6). The ALJ then determined whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work exiting in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 69-70, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id.

         Based upon that testimony, the ALJ found Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the following occupations: (1) escort vehicle driver (unskilled, sedentary) with 780, 000 such jobs in the national economy; (2) telephone quotation clerk (unskilled, sedentary) with 997, 000 such jobs in the national economy; and (3) document preparer (unskilled, sedentary) with 2, 800, 000 such jobs in the national economy. (Tr. 70). 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) at any time from August 15, 2012 (alleged onset date) through June 30, 2015 (date last insured). (Tr. 70, Finding 11).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. (Tr. 8). On November 2, 2016, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-3). On December 12, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this case. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs and have consented to the jurisdiction of this Court. ECF No. 5, 13-14. This case is now ready for determination.

         2.Applicable ...


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