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Seas v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division

December 10, 2018

PORSCHE SEAS PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Porsche Seas (“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 Title II and 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. 7. 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 disability applications on September 1, 2011. (Tr. 410-422). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to a back injury, a leg injury, and extreme pain. (Tr. 446). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of August 4, 2009. (Tr. 120). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 240-241).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on December 1, 2012. (Tr. 285). This request was granted, and Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on May 29, 2013. (Tr. 208-239). After that hearing, the ALJ held two additional administrative hearings. (Tr. 145-207). Thereafter, on September 30, 2016, the ALJ entered a partially favorable decision. (Tr. 121-137). The ALJ awarded Plaintiff disability benefits beginning on her alleged onset date of August 4, 2009 and continued them through June 23, 2013. Id. After that date, the ALJ found Plaintiff's disability benefits should be discontinued. (Tr. 137, Finding 21).

         Specifically, the ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2016. (Tr. 124, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since August 4, 2009, the date she became disabled. (Tr. 124, Finding 2). The ALJ found that from August 4, 2009 through June 22, 2013, the period during which the claimant was under a disability, the claimant had the following severe impairments: “degenerative disc disease in the lumbar spine with radiculopathy, right shoulder impingement, chronic regional pain syndrome, and an affective disorder.” (Tr. 124-125, Finding 3). The ALJ determined that, from August 4, 2009 through June 22, 2013, 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. 125, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 126-129, 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 capacity to perform the following:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that, from August 4, 2009 through June 22, 2013, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except the claimant would have needed the ability to alternate from sitting to standing for 30 minutes after every hour of sitting. The claimant would be able to stand for six hours, stand for two hours, and walk for two hours in an eight-hour workday. The claimant could perform occasional use of foot controls with the left lower extremity. The claimant can frequently push/pull with the right, non-dominant upper extremity. The claimant could perform occasional overhead and all other directional reaching with the right, non-dominant upper extremity. The claimant could occasionally climb stairs/ramps, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. The claimant would not have been able to climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. The claimant needed to avoid working at unprotected heights, around moving machinery, and operating a motor vehicle.
Mentally, the claimant is limited to unskilled work meaning she is able to perform simple, routine, and repetitive tasks. The claimant could use judgment in simple work-related situations and make simple work-related decisions. The claimant should have incidental contact with coworkers and the public. However, the claimant would have missed more than twice per month; and, she would have required frequent, unscheduled work breaks, at will, throughout the day.

Id.

         The ALJ determined that Plaintiff was a “younger individual” on her established disability onset date, as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) and 20 C.F.R. § 416.965(c). (Tr. 129, Finding 6). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had at least a high school education and was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 129, Finding 7).

         Considering her RFC, the ALJ determined that through August 4, 2009 through June 22, 2013, Plaintiff did not retain the capacity to perform her Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 129, Finding 5). The ALJ also determined that, through that time period, there were no jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy Plaintiff could perform. (Tr. 129-130, Finding 9). Accordingly, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was under a disability, as defined by the Act, from August 4, 2009 through June 22, 2013. (Tr. 130, Finding 10).

         Thereafter, the ALJ found medical improvement occurred as of June 23, 2013. (Tr. 132, Finding 13). The ALJ found the medical improvement that occurred as it related to her ability to work because there was an increase in her RFC. (Tr. 133, Finding 14). The ALJ ...


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