United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
KRISTA WILSON on behalf of SANDY KAY THOMAS, Deceased PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Wilson, on behalf of, Sandy Kay Thomas, 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) (2010),
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.
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.
protectively filed her applications for DIB and SSI on
October 8, 2013. (Tr. 14). In these applications, Plaintiff
alleges being disabled due to a history of degenerative
arthritis, cerebrovascular accident, brain aneurism,
depression, and pain. (Tr. 595). These applications were
denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 14).
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing, and that
hearing request was granted. (Tr. 511-513). Plaintiff's
administrative hearing was held on April 19, 2016. (Tr.
412-446). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was
represented by counsel, Greg Giles. Id. Plaintiff
and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Diana Kizer
testified at the hearing. Id.
18, 2016, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying
Plaintiff's application for DIB and SSI. (Tr. 14-30). In
this decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured
status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2017.
(Tr. 16, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff had
not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since October 31, 2012, the alleged onset
date. (Tr. 16, Finding 2).
found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
cervical and lumbar spine degenerative disc disease. (Tr. 16,
Finding 3). Despite being severe, the ALJ determined those
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.
23, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 23-29, Finding 5).
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 RFC to perform the full range of light
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 29, Finding 6). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff was capable of performing her PRW as a customer
complaint clerk. Id. Based on this finding, the ALJ
determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as
defined in the Act, from October 31, 2012 through the date of
the decision. (Tr. 29, Finding 7).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's decision. (Tr. 226-227). The Appeals Council denied
this request for review. (Tr. 1-10). On June 8, 2017,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties
have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 11, 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) (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 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. §§