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Beck v. Berryhill

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

March 22, 2018

PATSY BECK PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Patsy Beck (“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 November 7, 2013. (Tr. 26). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled from a neck and back injury due to a car accident. (Tr. 180). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of May 3, 2013. (Tr. 26). Her application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 78-96).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied application. (Tr. 103-104). This hearing request was granted, and Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on October 16, 2015 in Shreveport, Louisiana. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Mr. Rousey[1] testified at this hearing. Id.

         On January 4, 2016, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's DIB application. (Tr. 23-32). The ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2017. (Tr. 28, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) from her alleged onset date of May 3, 2013. (Tr. 28, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: cervical radiculopathy, mild cervical disc bulges, Chiari malformation, degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, and mild carpal tunnel syndrome. (Tr. 28, Finding 3). The ALJ also determined that 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. 28-29, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 29-31, 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 the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except sit/stand option.

Id.

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 32, Finding 6). Considering this RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform her PRW as a counter clerk, light. Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability (as defined by the Act) from May 3, 2013 through the date of her decision or through January 7, 2016. (Tr. 32, Finding 7).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. (Tr. 18-22). On January 24, 2017, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-3). On March 23, 2017, 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 Nos. 5, 13-14. This case is now ready for determination.

         2. Applicable Law:

         In 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) (2010); 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 ...


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