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Rushing v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division

June 26, 2018

JOY RUSHING PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Joy 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 applications for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”), Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), and a period of disability 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. 8.[1] Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.

         1. Background:

         Plaintiff protectively filed her disability applications on June 26, 2014. (Tr. 14). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to degenerative disc disease, respiratory problems, and polyarthritis. (Tr. 250). Plaintiff alleged an onset date February 28, 2013. (Tr. 14). Plaintiff later amended that alleged onset date to October 1, 2013. Id. These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 71-113).

         After Plaintiff's applications were denied, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on these applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 36-70). Thereafter, on September 24, 2015, the SSA held an administrative hearing on Plaintiff's applications in Alexandria, Louisiana. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Mark Chadick. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Harris Rowsey testified at this hearing. Id.

         On February 25, 2016, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications. (Tr. 11-23). The ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through June 30, 2018. (Tr. 16, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff did not engage in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since October 1, 2013, her amended alleged onset date. (Tr. 16, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease, obesity, COPD, bronchitis, and osteoarthritis. (Tr. 16-17, Finding 3).

         The ALJ also determined Plaintiff's 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. 17-18, Finding 4). The ALJ determined Plaintiff was thirty-one (31) years old, which is defined as a “younger individual” pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c) (2008) (SSI) and 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (2008) (DIB). (Tr. 22, Finding 7). As for her education, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had at least a high school education and was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 22, Finding 8).

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and assessed her Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 18-21, Finding 5). After assessing her subjective complaints, the ALJ determined her allegations were not entirely credible and found she retained the following RFC:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) except the claimant could not work in extreme cold or heat, or environments where she is exposed to dust, fumes, gases, odors, and poorly ventilated work spaces. The claimant could frequently stoop, crawl, bend, reach, finger, handle and climb stairs and ramps. She could sit for one hour continuously, then change position with no work stoppage.

Id. The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 21, Finding 6). Considering her RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff did not retain the capacity to perform her PRW. Id.

         The ALJ also considered whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 22-23, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id. Based upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the following sedentary, unskilled occupations: telephone quotations clerk with 8, 800 such jobs in the state and 997, 000 such jobs in the national economy; and assembler with 4, 700 such jobs in the state and 229, 000 such jobs in the national economy. Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from October 1, 2013 through the date of her decision or through March 1, 2016. (Tr. 23, Finding 11).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the review of the Appeals Council. On June 16, 2017, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-3). On August 11, 2017, Plaintiff filed her Complaint in this matter. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on August 23, 2017. ECF No. 8. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 24-25. This case is now ready for decision.

         2.Applicable ...


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