United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
MIRA E. KEYES PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Keyes, (“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”) under Title II of 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. 5. Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this
memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment
in this matter.
protectively filed her application for DIB on August 13,
2013. (Tr. 10). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due to osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease,
bilateral hip, tailbone pain, and extra bone in vertebrae.
(Tr. 242). This application was denied initially and again
upon reconsideration. (Tr. 10). Thereafter, Plaintiff
requested an administrative hearing, and that hearing request
was granted. (Tr. 100-101).
administrative hearing was held on September 14, 2016. (Tr.
21-47). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was
represented by counsel, Sherri McDonough. Id.
Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Kola Brown
testified at the hearing. Id. At the time of the
hearing, Plaintiff was fifty-nine (59) years old and had a
high school education. (Tr. 26-28).
the hearing, on September 28, 2016, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for
DIB. (Tr. 10-16). In this decision, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act
through September 30, 2013. (Tr. 12, Finding 1). The ALJ also
determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful
Activity (“SGA”) from August 8, 2013 through the
last date inured. (Tr. 12, Finding 2).
also found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
multilevel degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis. (Tr.
12, Finding 3). Despite being severe, the ALJ determined
those 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. 12, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 13, Finding 5).
First, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and found her claimed limitations were not
entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff retained the RFC to perform sedentary work, but
limited to occasionally climbing, crouching, stooping,
kneeling, and crawling; and can frequently perform reaching
and handling. Id.
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 16, Finding 6). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff was capable of performing her PRW as a
receptionist. Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ
determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as
defined in the Act, from August 8, 2013, though the date last
insured. (Tr. 16, Finding 7).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's decision. (Tr. 216). The Appeals Council denied
this request for review. (Tr. 1-6). On October 5, 2017,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties
have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 12, 13. This case is now
ready for decision.
well-established that a claimant for Social Security
disability benefits has the burden of proving his or her
disability by establishing a physical or mental disability
that lasted at least one year and that prevents him or her
from engaging in any substantial gainful activity. See
Cox v. Apfel, 160 F.3d 1203, 1206 (8th Cir. 1998); 42
U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). The Act
defines a “physical or mental impairment” as
“an impairment that results from anatomical,
physiological, or psychological abnormalities which are
demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory
diagnostic techniques.” 42 U.S.C. §§
423(d)(3), 1382(3)(c). A plaintiff must show that his or her
disability, not simply his or her impairment, has lasted for
at least twelve consecutive months. See 42 U.S.C.
determine whether the adult claimant suffers from a
disability, the Commissioner uses the familiar five-step
sequential evaluation. He determines: (1) whether the
claimant is presently engaged in a “substantial gainful
activity”; (2) whether the claimant has a severe
impairment that significantly limits the claimant's
physical or mental ability to perform basic work activities;
(3) whether the claimant has an impairment that meets or
equals a presumptively disabling impairment listed in the
regulations (if so, the claimant is disabled without regard
to age, education, and work experience); (4) whether the
claimant has the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to
perform his or her past relevant work; and (5) if the
claimant cannot perform the past work, the burden shifts to
the Commissioner to prove that there are other jobs in the
national economy that the claimant can perform. See
Cox, 160 F.3d at 1206; 20 C.F.R. ...