United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Hughes (“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 applications for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”), Supplemental Security
Income (“SSI”), and a period of disability under
Titles II and XVI of the Act.
to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and (3)
(2009), the Honorable P. K. Holmes, III referred this case to
this Court for the purpose of making a report and
recommendation. The Court, having reviewed the entire
transcript and relevant briefing, recommends the ALJ's
determination be AFFIRMED.
protectively filed her DIB and SSI applications on September
8, 2015. (Tr. 87). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges
being disabled due to bipolar, hip and back pain, diabetes,
migraines, high blood pressure, kidney issues, obesity, right
shoulder pain (Tr. 360). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of
March 27, 2014. (Tr. 87). These applications were denied
initially and again upon reconsideration. Id.
requested an administrative hearing on February 1, 2016. (Tr.
274-275). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on
September 22, 2016. (Tr. 106-136). At this hearing, Plaintiff
was present and was represented by Michael Hamby.
Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Jim B. Spragins testified at this hearing.
Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff was forty-seven (47)
years old and had a high school education (Tr. 113).
November 2, 2016, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff's applications. (Tr. 87-99). In this
decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status of
the Act through December 31, 2014. (Tr. 89, Finding 1). The
ALJ also found Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since March 27, 2014. (Tr. 89, Finding 2).
next found Plaintiff had severe impairments that included
degenerative disc disease of the back, bilateral shoulder
pain, migraine headaches, diabetes, essential hypertension,
obesity, affective disorder, and intellectual disability.
(Tr. 89, Finding 3). 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. 90, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 93-97, Finding 5).
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 light work, except
could occasionally reach overhead bilaterally; could perform
work where interpersonal contact is incidental to the work
performed; and limited to work where the complexity of tasks
is learned and performed by rote, with few variables and
little judgment; and the required supervision is simple,
direct and concrete. Id.
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 97, Finding 6). The ALJ found
Plaintiff was unable to perform any PRW. Id. The
ALJ, however, also determined there was other work existing
in significant numbers in the national economy Plaintiff
could perform. (Tr. 98, Finding 10). The ALJ based his
determination upon the testimony of the VE. Id.
Specifically, the VE testified that given all Plaintiff's
vocational factors, a hypothetical individual would be able
to perform the requirements of a representative occupation
such as price marker with approximately 4, 300 such jobs in
Arkansas and 496, 000 such jobs in the nation, molding
machine tender with approximately 2, 400 such jobs in
Arkansas and 168, 000 such jobs in the nation, and poultry
plant production worker with approximately 2, 400 such jobs
in Arkansas and 51, 000 such jobs in the nation. Id.
Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not
been under a disability as defined by the Act from March 27,
2014 through the date of the decision. (Tr. 99, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's unfavorable decision. (Tr. 326-329). On September
29, 2017, the Appeals Council denied this request for review.
(Tr. 1-7). On November 18, 2017, Plaintiff filed the present
appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF
Nos. 14, 15. This case is now ready for decision.
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. §§