United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Hamric, (“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
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 SSI on August 4, 2014.
(Tr. 13). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due to degenerative disc disease, fibromyalgia,
myalgias, osteoarthritis, high cholesterol, and depression.
(Tr. 175). This application was denied initially and again
upon reconsideration. (Tr. 13). Thereafter, Plaintiff
requested an administrative hearing, and that hearing request
was granted. (Tr. 107-109).
administrative hearing was held on January 8, 2016. (Tr.
43-70). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was
represented by counsel, Randolf Baltz. Id. Plaintiff
and Vocational Expert (“VE”) William Stampley
testified at the hearing. Id. At the time of the
hearing, Plaintiff was fifty-five (55) years old and had a
high school education. (Tr. 47).
the hearing, on July 11, 2016, the ALJ entered an unfavorable
decision denying Plaintiff's application for SSI. (Tr.
13-24). In this decision, ALJ determined Plaintiff not
engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”)
since August 4, 2014. (Tr. 15, Finding 1). The ALJ also found
Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: right
shoulder impingement, osteoarthritis, cervical and lumbar
degenerative disc disease, and fibromyalgia. (Tr. 15, Finding
2). 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.
17, Finding 3).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 17, Finding 4).
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 a full range of light
work except with occasional overhead reaching with the right
non-dominant extremity; occasional climbing, balancing,
stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling; and no exposure
to workplace hazards, dangerous machinery, and moving
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 23, Finding 5). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff was capable of performing her PRW as a cashier and
service establishment attendant. Id. Based upon this
finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a
disability, as defined in the Act, since August 4, 2014. (Tr.
24, Finding 6).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's decision. (Tr. 151-154). The Appeals Council denied
this request for review. (Tr. 1-6). On October 31, 2017,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties
have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 20, 21. 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. §§
404.1520(a)-(f). The fact finder only considers the
plaintiff's age, education, and work experience in light
of his or her RFC if the final stage of this analysis is
reached. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520,