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McGlothlin v. Berryhill

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

February 28, 2018

ELNORA MCGLOTHLIN PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Elnora McGlothlin (“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 January 24, 2011. (Tr. 18, 355). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to depression and psychotic features. (Tr. 392). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of October 1, 2010. (Tr. 18). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 113-114).

         Plaintiff had three administrative hearings: one on May 1, 2012; one on October 3, 2014; and one on August 16, 2016. (Tr. 40-112). After the 2012 and 2014 hearings, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's disability application. (Tr. 136-163). After reviewing the ALJ's opinion, however, the Appeals Council reversed and remanded this case back to the ALJ for further administrative review. (Tr. 173-175). As a part of this remand order, the Appeals Council specifically directed the ALJ to evaluate “the treating and nontreating source opinions . . . and . . . explain the weight given to such opinion evidence.” (Tr. 175).

         The ALJ then held the third administrative hearing on August 16, 2016. (Tr. 40-72). Subsequent to this hearing, the ALJ entered a second unfavorable decision. (Tr. 15-31). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since January 24, 2011, her application date. (Tr. 20, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: major depressive disorder, anxiety, bilateral trigger thumb and flexor tenosynovitis, asthma and learning disorder. (Tr. 20-23, 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. 22-23, Finding 3).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 23-29, 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 medium work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(c). She can occasionally lift/carry 50 pounds, 25 pounds frequently, and can push/pull as much as can lift/carry; she cannot perform tasks requiring frequent rapid and repetitive flexion extension of the bilateral wrists; she can understand, remember and carry out simple routine tasks.

Id.

         Considering her RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff did not retain the capacity to perform any of her PRW. (Tr. 29, Finding 5). The ALJ then determined whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 30, 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 the following: (1) coffee maker (medium, unskilled) with 402, 037 such jobs in the nation; (2) patient transporter (medium, unskilled) with 71, 182 such jobs in the nation; and (3) launder laborer (medium, unskilled) with 335, 568 such jobs in the nation. (Tr. 30). 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 the date her application was filed until the date of the ALJ's decision or until November 3, 2016. (Tr. 30, Finding 10).

         Plaintiff then requested the Appeals Council's review of this unfavorable decision. (Tr. 10-14). The Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-3). Then, on March 3, 2017, 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. Ap ...


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