United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Tarver, (“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 March 2, 2015.
(Tr. 12). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due to a brain tumor, scoliosis, sciatica nerve,
feet pain, migraines, previous cervical cancer, and bipolar
disorder. (Tr. 350). This application was denied initially
and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 12). Thereafter,
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing, and that
hearing request was granted. (Tr. 248-250).
administrative hearing was held on November 2, 2016. (Tr.
184-213). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was
represented by counsel, Greg Giles. Id. Plaintiff
and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Wilfred Roux
testified at the hearing. Id. At the time of the
hearing, Plaintiff was forty-one (41) years old and had a
ninth grade education. (Tr. 188-189).
the hearing, on January 13, 2017, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for
SSI. (Tr. 12-20). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff
had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since March 2, 2015. (Tr. 14, Finding 1).
The ALJ also found Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: impairments of status-post lumbar surgery
secondary to degenerative disc disease, scoliosis,
arteriovenous (AV) malformation, migraine headaches, and
depression. (Tr. 12, 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. 12, Finding 3).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 13, 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 sedentary work, with
the following exceptions, she can occasionally climb stairs
and ramps, balance, kneel, stoop, crouch, and crawl; she can
not climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; and is limited to
simple work tasks requiring little independent judgment and
minimal variations and frequent interaction with coworkers,
supervisors, and the public. Id.
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 19, Finding 5). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff was not capable of performing her PRW. Id.
The ALJ, however, also determined there was other work
existing in significant numbers in the national economy
Plaintiff could perform. (Tr. 19, Finding 9). The ALJ based
this 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 representative occupations
such as charge account clerk with approximately 192, 360 such
jobs in the nation and telephone order clerk with
approximately 190, 390 such jobs in the nation.. Id.
Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not
been under a disability, as defined in the Act, since March
2, 2015. (Tr. 20, Finding 10).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's decision. (Tr. 293-295). The Appeals Council denied
this request for review. (Tr. 1-7). On December 11, 2017,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties
have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 12, 13. 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,