United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division
A. BRYANT HON. BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Byrd (“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 Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI
of the Act.
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. 8. Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this
memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment
in this matter.
filed her application for DIB on September 12, 2014 and for
SSI on October 9, 2014. (Tr. 20). In these applications,
Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to carpel tunnel
syndrome on both hand and osteogenesis. (Tr. 222). Plaintiff
alleges an onset date of April 1, 2014. (Tr. 20). Her
applications were denied initially and again upon
requested an administrative hearing on her denied
applications. (Tr. 139-140). This hearing request was
granted, and Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held
on September 22, 2016. (Tr. 60-79). At this hearing,
Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Mike
Rainwater. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Harris Rowzie testified at this hearing.
December 7, 2016, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ
entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's
disability applications. (Tr. 20-28). In this decision, the
ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements
of the Act through March 31, 2017. (Tr. 22, Finding 1). The
ALJ also determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial
Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since April 1, 2014, the
alleged onset date. (Tr. 22, Finding2).
then determined Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), obesity,
and fibromyalgia. (Tr. 22, Finding 3). The ALJ also
determined 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. 23, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (Tr. 23-26, Finding 5). First, the ALJ
evaluated Plaintiff' subjective complaints and found they
were not entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ
determined Plaintiff had the RFC to perform light work but
was limited to only occasional use of the bilateral hands for
gripping, grasping, fingering and feeling. Id.
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 26, Finding 6). Considering her
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.
27, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative
hearing regarding this issue. Id. Specifically, the
VE testified Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform work
as an usher with 107, 000 such jobs nationally and 800 such
jobs in the state and as a school bus monitor with 79, 000
such jobs nationally and 700 such jobs in the state.
Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff had not been under a disability (as defined by the
Act) from April 1, 2014 through the date of the ALJ's
decision. (Tr. 28, Finding 11).
sought review with the Appeals Council. On August 29, 2017,
the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr.
1-6). On November 13, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in
this case. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs.
ECF Nos. 14-15. This case is now ready for determination.
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 draw two inconsistent
positions from the evidence and one of those positions
represents the findings of the ALJ, the decision of the ALJ
must be affirmed. See Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065,
1068 (8th Cir. 2000).
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. §§