United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Lee Cross, on behalf of, Donna Cross, deceased,
(“Plaintiff”) brings this action pursuant to
§ 205(g) of Title II of the Social Security Act
(“The Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2006),
seeking judicial review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) denying her applications for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”) under Titles II and 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.
applications for DIB and SSI were filed on March 28, 2011.
(Tr. 352-366). Plaintiff alleged she was disabled due to
severe knee and ankle problems, osteoarthritis, stroke, and
congestive heart failure. (Tr. 427). Plaintiff alleged an
onset date of January 1, 2005. (Tr. 352). These applications
were denied initially and again upon reconsideration.
Id. Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an
administrative hearing on her applications and this hearing
request was granted. (Tr. 192).
administrative hearing was held on July 15, 2015. (Tr.
76-112). Plaintiff was present and was represented by
counsel, Greg Giles, at this hearing. Id. Plaintiff
and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Mary May testified
at this hearing. Id. At the time of this hearing,
Plaintiff was fifty-six (56) years old and had an eleventh
grade education. (Tr. 81-82).
October 27, 2015, the ALJ entered a partially favorable
decision denying Plaintiff's application for DIB, but
granting Plaintiff's application for SSI. (Tr. 21-34). In
this decision, the ALJ determined the Plaintiff met the
insured status requirements of the Act through September 30,
2007. (Tr. 24, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff
had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since January 1, 2005. (Tr. 24, Finding
determined Plaintiff had the severe impairments of
osteoarthritis of the bilateral knees, degenerative joint
disease of the lumbar spine, and morbid obesity. (Tr. 24,
Finding 3). The ALJ then determined Plaintiff's
impairments did not meet or medically equal the requirements
of any of the Listing of Impairments in Appendix 1 to Subpart
P of Regulations No. 4 (“Listings”). (Tr. 26,
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 27-31). First, the
ALJ indicated he evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and found her claimed limitations were not
entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff retained the RFC for sedentary work, except can
only occasionally climb stairs and ramps, but not climb
ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; can occasionally stoop, kneel,
crouch, and crawl; and must avoid concentrated exposure to
extreme temperatures, dusts, fumes, gases, odors, and other
pulmonary irritants. (Tr. 27).
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 31, Finding 6). The ALJ found
Plaintiff was unable to perform her PRW. Id. The ALJ
also found that on June 21, 2009, Plaintiff's age
category changed to an individual closely approaching
advanced age. (Tr. 31, Finding 7). The ALJ, however, also
determined that prior June 21, 2009, there was other work
existing in significant numbers in the national economy
Plaintiff could perform. (Tr. 32, Finding 10). However, on
June 21, 2009, because Plaintiff's age category changed,
there were no jobs existing in significant numbers in the
national economy Plaintiff could perform. (Tr. 33, Finding
11). Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff
became disabled on June 21, 2009. (Tr. 33, Finding 12). The
ALJ also found Plaintiff was not under a disability at any
time through September 30, 2007, the date last insured. (Tr.
33, Finding 13).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council review the ALJ's
decision. (Tr. 14). See 20 C.F.R. § 404.968.
The Appeals Council declined to review this decision. (Tr.
1-5). On November 4, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present
appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction
of this Court on November 7, 2016. ECF No. 7. Both Parties
have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 13, 16. 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) (2006); 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 draw two inconsistent
positions from the evidence and one of those positions
represents the findings of the ALJ, the decision of the ALJ
must be affirmed. See Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065,
1068 (8th Cir. 2000).
well established that a claimant for Social Security
disability benefits has the burden of proving his or her
disability by establishing a physical or mental disability
that lasted at least one year and that prevents him or her
from engaging in any substantial gainful activity. See
Cox v. Apfel, 160 F.3d 1203, 1206 (8th Cir. 1998); 42
U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). The Act
defines a “physical or mental impairment” as
“an impairment that results from anatomical,
physiological, or psychological abnormalities which are
demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory
diagnostic techniques.” 42 U.S.C. §§
423(d)(3), 1382(3)(c). A plaintiff must show that his or her
disability, not simply his or her impairment, has lasted for
at least twelve consecutive months. See 42 U.S.C.
determine whether the adult claimant suffers from a
disability, the Commissioner uses the familiar five-step
sequential evaluation. He determines: (1) whether the
claimant is presently engaged in a “substantial gainful
activity”; (2) whether the claimant has a severe
impairment that significantly limits the claimant's
physical or mental ability to perform basic work activities;
(3) whether the claimant has an impairment that meets or
equals a presumptively disabling impairment listed in the
regulations (if so, the claimant is disabled without regard
to age, education, and work experience); (4) whether the
claimant has the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to
perform his or her past relevant work; and (5) if the
claimant cannot perform the past work, the burden shifts to
the Commissioner to prove that there are other jobs in the
national economy that the claimant can perform. See
Cox, 160 F.3d at 1206; 20 C.F.R. ...