United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Edwards (“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.
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 applications on January 26,
2015. (Tr. 104). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges she
was disabled due to degenerative disc disease, fibromyalgia,
spine and back problems, rheumatoid arthritis, metabolic
issues, anxiety, panic attacks, and “gi issues.”
(Tr. 401). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of May 1, 2009.
(Tr. 104). These applications were denied initially and again
upon reconsideration. (Tr. 247-290).
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her
applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr.
213-246, 318). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was
held on May 26, 2016 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. (Tr. 213-246).
At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by
counsel, Stephanie Spanhel. Id. Plaintiff and
Vocational Expert (“VE”) Diane Smith testified at
this hearing. Id.
on August 19, 2016, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable
decision on Plaintiff's disability applications. (Tr.
101-121). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the
insured status requirements of the Act through September 20,
2011. (Tr. 106, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not
engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”)
since May 1, 2009, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 106, Finding
2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe
The claimant has the following severe impairments: lumbar
spondylosis/osteoarthritis, recurrent abdominal conditions
including ulcerative esophagitis, gastritis, dysphagia, and
metabolic acidosis, fibromyalgia, bilateral hand
numbness/tingling with weakness, migraine headaches, major
depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic
disorder, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (20 CFR
404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
106-107, 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. 107-108, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 108-119, 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 sedentary work as defined in
20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) except she can only
occasionally reach overhead. She can occasionally handle,
finger, and feel bilaterally.
In addition, she can over climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds
and can only occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance,
stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. The work must not expose the
claimant to unprotected heights or moving mechanical parts.
The claimant may use a cane to ambulate. Additionally, the
work must be limited to semi-skilled work, defined as work
where interpersonal contact is routine but superficial, the
complexity of tasks is learned by experience, involves
several variables, uses judgment within limits, and the
supervision required is little for routine but detained for
determined Plaintiff was thirty-four (34) years old on her
alleged disability onset date. (Tr. 119, 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