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Arterbury v. Berryhill

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

October 5, 2018

NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT



         Linda Kay Rhodes Arterbury (“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.

         Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and (3) (2009), the Honorable Susan O. Hickey referred this case to this Court for the purpose of making a report and recommendation. In accordance with that referral, and after reviewing the arguments in this case, this Court recommends Plaintiff's case be REVERSED AND REMANDED.

         1. Background:

         Plaintiff protectively filed her disability application on July 25, 2013. (Tr. 65). In her application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to a long list of impairments, including osteoarthritis, hormone replacement, post-traumatic stress disorder, cataracts, a sprain, bursitis or tendinitis, a hysterectomy, internal hemorrhoids, rectal bleeding, anemia, morbid obesity, borderline diabetes, bipolar disorder, asthma, GERD, allergic rhinitis, shortness of breath, arthralgia, hyperlipidemia, and migraines. (Tr. 254). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of December 20, 2011. (Tr. 65). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 116-141).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 76-95, 142). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on September 5, 2015 in Texarkana, Arkansas. (Tr. 76-95). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel. Id. Plaintiff, Vocational Expert (“VE”) Ms. Yarborough, and a witness for Plaintiff testified at this hearing. Id.

         On January 13, 2016, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 62-71). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2017. (Tr. 67, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since December 20, 2011, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 67, Finding 2). The ALJ found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: hypertension, diabetes mellitus, obesity, migraines, degenerative joint diseases of the left knee, osteoarthritis, and asthma. (Tr. 67-68, 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. 68, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 68-70, 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 the following:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) except she must avoid high production quotas.


         The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 71, Finding 6). Specifically, the ALJ determined Plaintiff's PRW included work as a cardiac monitor technician. Id. Considering her RFC, the ALJ found Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this PRW. Id. As such, because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform her PRW, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from December 20, 2011 through the date of her decision or through January 13, 2016. (Tr. 71, Finding 7).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the ALJ's unfavorable decision. (Tr. 15). On April 10, 2017, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-4). On June 7, 2017, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 15-16. This case is now ready for decision.

         2. Applicable Law:

         In 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) (2010); 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 ...

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