United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Ann Dixon (“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. 14. Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
application for DIB and SSI were filed on November 3, 2011.
(Tr. 4, 474-483). Plaintiff alleged she was disabled due to
uncontrollable blood pressure, nerve problem in right leg,
and obesity. (Tr. 533). Plaintiff alleged an onset date of
September 27, 2011. (Tr. 521). These applications were denied
initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 103-106,
204-212). Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative
hearing on her applications and this hearing request was
granted. (Tr. 213).
initial administrative hearing was held on January 17, 2013.
(Tr. 296-335). Following this hearing, on April 30, 2013, the
ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's
application for DIB and SSI. (Tr. 110-129). On July 1, 2014,
the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review
of the ALJ's decision. (Tr. 130-133). Following this,
Plaintiff appealed the ALJ's April 30, 2013 decision to
this Court. ECF No. 1.
this matter was pending before this Court, Plaintiff filed a
Title XVI application for SSI, alleging disability due to
uncontrollable hypertension, bipolar disorder, depression,
and anxiety. (Tr. 25, 591). That application was denied
initially and on reconsideration. (Tr. 25, 414-417, 424-426).
March 25, 2015, this Court remanded this case for further
administrative action pursuant to sentence six of 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) because a significant portion of the recording
of the January 17, 2013 hearing was inaudible, and,
therefore, a complete transcript of the hearing could not be
prepared. (Tr. 135-143). On April 24, 2015, the Appeals
Council remanded the case for any further action needed to
complete the record. (Tr. 147). The Appeals Council also
directed the ALJ to consolidate the DIB and SSI claims filed
on November 3, 2011 with the subsequent SSI claim filed in
July 21, 2014, to create a single electronic record, and to
issue a new decision on the consolidated claims. Id.
second administrative hearing was held on July 16, 2015. (Tr.
65-102). Plaintiff was present and was represented by
counsel, Howard Goode, at this hearing. Id.
Plaintiff, her daughter, and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Juanita Grant, testified at the hearing.
January 14, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision on
Plaintiff's November 3, 2011 applications for DIB and SSI
finding Plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 46-57). On January 28,
2016, the ALJ issued a separate, but substantively identical
decision, on Plaintiff's July 1, 2014 application for SSI
finding Plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. 3-4, 25-36).
Appeals Council assumed jurisdiction on October 19, 2016
pursuant to 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.984(b)(3),
416.1484(b)(3) and issued a decision on February 14, 2017.
(Tr. 3-6). The Appeals Council indicated the ALJ had not
consolidated the claims as ordered and vacated both of the
ALJ's decisions from January 2016. (Tr. 3-4). However,
the Appeals Council adopted the ALJ's findings in those
decisions, as well as any pertinent legal provisions and
applicable evidentiary facts. Id. The Appeals
Council consolidated Plaintiff's November 3, 2011 and
July 21, 2014 DIB and SSI claims, and found Plaintiff had not
been disabled under the Act from September 17, 2011, through
the ALJ's January 28, 2016 decision. (Tr. 3-6).
February 14, 2017 decision, the Appeals Council determined
Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since September 17, 2011. (Tr. 5, Finding
1). The Appeals Council also determined Plaintiff had the
severe impairments hypertension, obesity, bipolar disorder
II, and anxiety disorder. (Tr. 5, Finding 2). They 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. 5, Finding 3)
decision, the Appeals Council determined Plaintiff retained
the RFC to perform light work except could only occasionally
climb stairs and ramps; never climb ladders, ropes, and
scaffolds; occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and
crawl; could perform simple, routine, and repetitive tasks,
and could occasionally respond appropriately to supervisors,
coworkers, and the public. (Tr. 5, Finding 4). The Appeals
Council then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
("PRW"). (Tr. 5, Finding 6). They found Plaintiff
was capable of performing her PRW as a production worker.
Id. The Appeals Council, also determined there was
other work existing in significant numbers in the national
economy Plaintiff could perform. (Tr. 5, Finding 8). Based
upon this finding, it was determined Plaintiff had not been
under a disability as defined by the Act from any time
through January 28, 2016. (Tr. 5, Finding 9).
September 15, 2017, this Court reopened this case for review
of the Commissioner's final decision. ECF No. 16. Both
Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 23, 24. This case
is now ready for decision.