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Tidwell v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

June 29, 2018

NANCY E. TIDWELL PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Nancy E. Tidwell (“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.

         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. 4.[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 application on November 14, 2013. (Tr. 18). In this application, Plaintiff alleges she was disabled due to a degenerative bulging disc in her neck and lower back, neuropathy in her legs and feet, diabetes, cervicalgia, back and hip problems, fibromyalgia, and mild spinal stenosis pain. (Tr. 182). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of July 23, 2013. (Tr. 18). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 62-73).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 34-61, 97). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on April 7, 2016 in McAlester, Oklahoma. (Tr. 34-61). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Greg Giles. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Diana Kizer testified. Id.

         Thereafter, on May 6, 2016, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision on Plaintiff's disability application. (Tr. 15-27). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2018. (Tr. 20, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since July 23, 2013, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 20, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease; osteoarthritis; left shoulder degenerative disc disease; and chronic pain. (Tr. 20-21, 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. 21, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 21-25, 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 with occasional climbing of ramps and stairs; no climbing of ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; occasional balancing, stooping, and kneeling; no crouching or crawling; no overhead reaching with her left non-dominant arm; and she must be allowed to alternately sit and stand every 20 minutes for the purpose of changing positions, but without leaving the workstation.

Id.

         The ALJ determined Plaintiff was forty-six (46) years old on her alleged disability onset date. (Tr. 25, Finding 7). Such an individual is characterized as a “younger individual” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (2008). Id. The ALJ also determined Plaintiff had at least a high school education and was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 25, Finding 8).

         The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and determined she was unable to perform any of her PRW. (Tr. 25, Finding 6). The ALJ did, however, determine Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 25-26, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id. Based upon that testimony, the ALJ found Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform unskilled, light work such as the following: (1) information clerk with approximately 53, 000 such jobs nationally; and (2) food cashier with approximately 70, 000 such jobs nationally. Id. Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this other work, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from July 23, 2013 through the date of his decision or through May 11, 2016. (Tr. 26, Finding 11).

         Plaintiff requested that the Appeals Council's review the ALJ's unfavorable disability determination. (Tr. 1-3). The Appeals Council denied that request. Id. On August 30, 2017, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on August 30, 2017. ECF No. 4. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 9-10. This case is now ready for decision.

         2. Ap ...


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