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McClain v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

November 1, 2018

NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT



         Candy McClain (“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.

         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.[1] Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.

         1. Background:

         Plaintiff protectively filed her DIB application on December 5, 2014. (Tr. 12). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to stroke, heart attack, fibromyalgia, gastroparesis, and reflux. (Tr. 186). At the administrative hearing, Plaintiff also alleged being disabled due to shoulder problems, and Plaintiff has had injections in her shoulders. (Tr. 34). Plaintiff alleged an onset date of October 28, 2014. (Tr. 12). This application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 65-76).

         After Plaintiff's application was denied, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 30-64). This hearing was held on June 2, 2006 in Little Rock, Arkansas. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff was present an was represented by counsel. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Stephanie Ford testified at this hearing. Id.

         On September 28, 2016, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 12-25). The ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2019. (Tr. 14, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since October 28, 2014, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 14, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: ischemic heart disease, cerebral vascular accident, fibromyalgia, migraines, and adjustment disorder with depressed mood. (Tr. 14-15, Finding 3).

         The ALJ also determined Plaintiff's 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. 15-17, Finding 4). The ALJ determined Plaintiff was fifty-two (52) years old, which is defined as an “individual closely approaching advanced age” pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (2008) on her disability alleged onset date. (Tr. 23, Finding 7). As for her education, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had at least a high school education and was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 24, Finding 8).

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and assessed her Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 17-23, Finding 5). After assessing her subjective complaints, the ALJ determined her allegations were not entirely credible and found she retained the following RFC:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) with the following additional limitations. She can occasionally reach in all directions, including overhead, with the left upper extremity; she can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; and, she can occasionally stoop and crouch. Mentally, she is limited to simple, routine, and repetitive tasks and simple, work-related decisions. She is limited to simple, direct, and concrete supervision as well as incidental interpersonal contact with coworkers and the public.

Id. The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 23, Finding 6). Considering her RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff could not perform any of her PRW. Id.

         The ALJ also considered whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 24, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id. Based upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform the following occupation: furniture rental clerk (light, unskilled work) with 51, 000 such jobs in the nation. (Tr. 24). Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined in the Act, from October 28, 2014 through the date of this decision or through September 28, 2016. (Tr. 25, Finding 11).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the review of the Appeals Council. On August 25, 2017, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-3). On September 29, 2017, Plaintiff filed her Complaint in this matter. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on October 2, 2017. ECF No. 5. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 13, 15. This case is now ready for decision.

         2. Ap ...

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