United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Dawn Smith (“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 May 15,
2014. (Tr. 13). In her application, Plaintiff alleges she was
disabled due to cirrhosis of the liver, Hepatitis C,
residuals from a car wreck in 2009, severe pain, depression,
and hearing and vision issues. (Tr. 181). Plaintiff alleges
an onset date of June 3, 2009. (Tr. 13). Plaintiff later
amended her alleged onset date to April 1, 2014. Id.
This application was denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 59-96).
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her
application, and this request was granted. (Tr. 29-58). This
hearing was held on June 10, 2016 in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Id. At this administrative hearing, Plaintiff was
present and was represented by counsel. Id.
Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Stacy
McKisick testified at this hearing. Id. On the date
of this hearing, Plaintiff testified she was sixty (60) years
old, which is defined as a “person of advanced
age” under under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(e) (DIB),
and she testified she completed one year of college. (Tr.
August 5, 2016, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision on
Plaintiff's disability application. (Tr. 10-22). In this
decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff last met the insured status
requirements of the Act on December 31, 2014. (Tr. 15,
Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in
Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) during the
time period from her amended alleged onset date of April 1,
2014 through her date last insured of December 31, 2014. (Tr.
15, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the
following severe impairment: degenerative disc disease of the
cervical and lumbar spine. (Tr. 15-17, 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. 17-18, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 18-21, 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, through the date last insured, the
claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform the
full range of light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b).
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 21, Finding 6). The ALJ determined
that, through her date last insured, Plaintiff was capable of
performing her PRW as a bartender. Id. Because
Plaintiff retained this capacity, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff was not under a disability under the Act at any
time from her alleged onset date of June 3, 2009 through
December 31, 2014, the ALJ's decision date. (Tr. 21,
requested that the Appeals Council's review the ALJ's
unfavorable disability determination. (Tr.1-3). On July 21,
2017, the Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's
disability determination. Id. On August 21, 2017,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties
consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on August 24,
2017. ECF No. 7. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF
Nos. 13-14. 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 ...