United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Lynn Bates (“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 Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of 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. 9. Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
protectively filed her disability application on January 16,
2014. (Tr. 11). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due to due to chronic migraines, lower back
problems, and hepatitis C. (Tr. 590). Plaintiff alleged an
onset date of December 2, 2013. Id. This application
was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr.
December 7, 2015, Plaintiff had an administrative hearing on
her application. (Tr. 26- 46). Plaintiff was present and was
represented by Matthew Golden. Id. Plaintiff, and
Vocational Expert (“VE”) Juanita Grant, testified
at this hearing. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff
testified she was thirty-seven (37) years old and had a high
school education. (Tr. 529, 591).
February 29, 2016, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 11-20). In this
decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status
requirements of the Act through September 30, 2017. (Tr. 13,
Finding 1). The ALJ also found Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity (“SGA”) since
December 2, 2013, the alleged onset date. (Tr. 13, Finding
then found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
migraine headaches, degenerative disc disease of the lumbar
spine, and obesity. (Tr. 13, Finding 3). The ALJ then
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. 15, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 15-18). 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 the full range of light work.
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 18, Finding 6). The ALJ found
Plaintiff capable of performing her PRW as a hairdresser and
clerical receptionist. Id. Based upon this finding,
the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability
as defined by the Act from December 2, 2013, through the date
of the decision. (Tr. 20, Finding 7).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's unfavorable decision. (Tr. 524). The Appeals
Council declined to review this unfavorable decision. (Tr.
1-4). On July 7, 2017, Plaintiff filed the present appeal.
ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos.
21, 22. 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. §§