United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Marie Neitzel (“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”) and a period of
disability under Title II 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. 7. 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 September
20, 2011. (Tr. 14). In this application, Plaintiff alleges
she is disabled due to nerve damage to her right arm and
hand. (Tr. 135). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of September
14, 2011. (Tr. 14). This application was denied initially and
again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 45-46).
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her
application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr.
26-44). An administrative hearing was held on October 25,
2012 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. (Tr. 26-44). At this
administrative hearing, Plaintiff was present and was
represented by Hans Pullen. Id. Plaintiff and
Vocational Expert (“VE”) Elizabeth Clem testified
at this hearing. Id.
January 23, 2013, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision on
Plaintiff's disability application. (Tr. 11-21). In this
decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status
requirements of Act through June 30, 2016. (Tr. 16, Finding
1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial
Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since September 14,
2011, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 16, Finding 2). The ALJ
found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: status
post fracture of the right humerus and joint dysfunction.
(Tr. 16, Finding 3). The ALJ, however, also determined
Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that met or medically equaled one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
(Tr. 16-17, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 17-19, Finding 5).
First, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined they were not entirely credible.
Id. Second, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained
the RFC for the following:
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 she is to have no rapid, repetitive,
flexion or extension of the hands.
Id. The ALJ determined Plaintiff was fifty-four (54)
years old, which is defined as a “person closely
approaching advanced age” under 20 C.F.R. §
404.1563(d). (Tr. 20, Finding 7). The ALJ also determined
Plaintiff had at least a high school education and was able
to communicate in English. (Tr. 20, Finding 8).
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”) and determined Plaintiff was unable to
perform any of her PRW. (Tr. 20, Finding 6). The ALJ did,
however, determine Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform
other work existing in significant numbers in the national
economy. (Tr. 20-21, Finding 10). Specifically, the ALJ
determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform
semi-skilled, light work such as work as a personal care
assistant with 3, 400 such jobs in Arkansas and 350, 000 such
jobs in the United States. Id. Accordingly, based
upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been
under a disability, as defined by the Act, from September 14,
2011 through the date of the ALJ's decision or through
January 23, 2013. (Tr. 21, Finding 11).
requested the Appeals Council's review the ALJ's
unfavorable disability determination. (Tr. 1-4). On March 12,
2014, the Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's
disability determination. Id. On August 7, 2017,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties
consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on August 18,
2017. ECF No. 7. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF
Nos. 12-13. 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) (2006); 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 ...