United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Rushing, (“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 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. 6. Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this
memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment
in this matter.
protectively filed her application for DIB on March 24, 2014.
(Tr. 76). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due to cervical discectomy and fusion,
osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, brachial neuritis cervical
radiculitis, foraminal stenosis at C-4, migraines,
cervicalgia, numbness, pain in hips, neck and back, and
depression. (Tr. 302). This application was denied initially
and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 76). Thereafter,
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing, and that
hearing request was granted. (Tr. 219).
administrative hearing was held on March 4, 2016. (Tr.
161-182). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was
represented by counsel, William Mouser. Id.
Plaintiff testified at the hearing. Id.
the hearing, on March 30, 2016, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for
DIB. (Tr. 76-85). In this decision, the ALJ determined the
Plaintiff last met the insured status requirements of the Act
through December 31, 2017. (Tr. 78, Finding 1). The ALJ then
determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful
Activity (“SGA”) since January 2, 2013. (Tr. 78,
also found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, post-laminectomy syndrome
of the cervical spine, migraines, and osteoarthritis. (Tr.
78, 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. 80, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 80, 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. 85, Finding 6). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff was capable of performing her PRW as a deputy tax
assessor. Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ
determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability as
defined by the Act from January 2, 2013, through the date of
the decision. (Tr. 85, Finding 7).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's decision. (Tr. 285). The Appeals Council denied
this request for review. (Tr. 1-5). On August 11, 2017,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties
have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 13, 14. This case is now
ready for decision.
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. §§
423(d)(3), 1382(3)(c). A plaintiff must show that his or her
disability, not simply his or her impairment, has lasted for
at least twelve consecutive months. See 42 U.S.C.
determine whether the adult claimant suffers from a
disability, the Commissioner uses the familiar five-step
sequential evaluation. He determines: (1) whether the
claimant is presently engaged in a “substantial gainful
activity”; (2) whether the claimant has a severe
impairment that significantly limits the claimant's
physical or mental ability to perform basic work activities;
(3) whether the claimant has an impairment that meets or
equals a presumptively disabling impairment listed in the
regulations (if so, the claimant is disabled without regard
to age, education, and work experience); (4) whether the
claimant has the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to
perform his or her past relevant work; and (5) if the
claimant cannot perform the past work, the burden shifts to
the Commissioner to prove that there are other jobs in the
national economy that the claimant can perform. See
Cox, 160 F.3d at 1206; 20 C.F.R. ...