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Dixon v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division

October 16, 2018

APRIL DIXON PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          ORDER

         Plaintiff April Dixon (“Dixon”), in her appeal of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (defendant “Berryhill”) to deny her claim for Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI), contends the Administrative Law Judge's (ALJ) decision that she is not disabled is not supported by substantial evidence. Specifically, Dixon faults the ALJ for: (1) failing to find she met Listing 12.05C, and; (2) in the alternative, even if she did not meet Listing 12.05C, the ALJ erred in finding she could perform other work in the economy. The parties have ably summarized the medical records and the testimony given at the administrative hearings. The relevant period to be examined is from July 11, 2006, Dixon's alleged onset date, through June 29, 2016, the date of the ALJ's decision.

         A Brief History:

         An initial administrative hearing was conducted in February 2009. (Tr. 87-104). A May 2009 ALJ's decision denied benefits. (Tr. 111-120). The Appeals Council remanded the case to obtain additional evidence, including a consultative psychiatric examination. (Tr. 121-125). A second administrative hearing was conducted in November 2009, followed by a December 2009 decision by the ALJ denying benefits. (Tr. 126-145, 126-145). The Appeals Council again remanded, in January 2011, finding the ALJ did not comply with the earlier instructions of the Appeals Council. (Tr. 146-149). October 2011 brought the third administrative hearing. (Tr. Tr. 7-25). In November of that year the ALJ denied benefits, and the Appeals Council denied Dixon's request for review. (Tr. 28-48, 1-5).

         Dixon then filed suit in this Court. In an October 2013 decision, United States Magistrate Judge H. David Young remanded the case, directing the ALJ to re-consider, inter alia, if Dixon met Listing 12.05C. (Tr. 631-640). A fourth administrative hearing was held in August 2014. (Tr. 549-573). The ALJ denied benefits in September 2014. (Tr. 647-658). This was followed by a remand by the Appeals Council in November 2014. (Tr. 667-670).

         A fifth and final administrative hearing occurred in June 2016. (Tr. 574-597). The ALJ denied benefits, finding Dixon suffered from a mild intellectual disability but that she does not meet Listing 12.05C and has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform unskilled work with no contact with the public. (Tr. 517-537). The Appeals Council denied Dixon's request for review, rendering the ALJ's June 2016 decision as the final decision of the Commissioner. Dixon now appeals this ruling.

         Pertinent findings from the five prior hearings are listed below:

* Dixon I
Decision Dated: 05/19/09
Severe Impairments Found: hypothyroidism, foot pain, borderline intellectual functioning.
RFC: Unskilled, light work.
Jobs: Housekeeping.
* Dixon II
Decision Dated: 12/15/09
Severe Impairments: borderline intellectual functioning, hypothyroidism.
RFC: full range of work at all exertional levels with numerous non-exertional limitations.
Jobs: Garment bagger, rack loader, sorter of wood products.
* Dixon III
Decision Dated: 11/03/11
Severe Impairments: borderline intellectual functioning, ...

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