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Wilson v. Berryhill

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

October 25, 2018

NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT



         Destiny Wilson (“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 Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI 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. 5. Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.


         Plaintiff protectively filed her disability application on November 16, 2011. (Tr. 21). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to tachycardia, diabetes, neuropathy, bipolar disorder, PTSD, high blood pressure, irregular heart beat, anxiety, fluid build up, acid reflux disease, severe back pain, and high cholesterol. (Tr. 269). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of June 1, 2010. (Tr. 130). Her application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 171-191).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied application. (Tr. 198). This hearing request was granted, and Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on May 4, 2016 in Shreveport, Louisiana. (Tr. 102-126). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Greg Giles. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Mr. Thomas[1] testified at this hearing. Id.

         On June 16, 2016, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's disability application. (Tr. 18-33). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since August 28, 2014, her application date. (Tr. 23, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, diabetic neuropathy, obesity, and bipolar disorder. (Tr. 23-27, Finding 2). The ALJ also determined that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that 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. 27-28, Finding 3).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 29-31, Finding 4). First, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff' subjective complaints and found they were not entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following RFC:

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 416.967(a) except she occasionally balance, stoop, crouch, crawl and kneel; can climb stairs and ramps occasionally; cannot climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds; can occasionally operate foot controls; can occasionally operate a motor vehicle; can understand, remember and carry out short, simple instructions; can perform simple, routine tasks with no fast-paced, high quota production work; can make only simple work-related decisions; can adapt to few, if any, workplace changes; and, can tolerate only occasional interaction with co-workers, supervisors, and the general public.


         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 31, Finding 5). Considering his RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff did not retain the capacity to perform her PRW. Id. The ALJ then determined whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 32, Finding 9). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id. Specifically, the VE testified Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform work as a patcher (sedentary, unskilled) and as a touch-up screener (sedentary, unskilled) with approximately 8, 500 such jobs in the national economy. Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability (as defined by the Act) from August 28, 2014 (application date) until June 16, 2016 (ALJ's decision date). (Tr. 32, Finding 10).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. On July 26, 2017, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-3). On September 25, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this case. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs and have consented to the jurisdiction of this Court. ECF Nos. 5, 11-12. This case is now ready for determination.

         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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