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Williams v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division

December 19, 2018

TREBRA ANITA WILLIAMS PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

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

         Trebra Anita Williams (“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 Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”), and a period of disability under Titles 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. 5. 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 October 30, 2014. (Tr. 140). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to fibromyalgia; depression; anxiety; hypothyroidism; muscle spasms; back, neck, leg, and hip pain; acid reflux; memory loss; and irritable bowel syndrome. (Tr. 492). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of August 20, 2014. (Tr. 140). Her applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 330-393).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied applications. (Tr. 414-415). This hearing request was granted, and Plaintiff's hearing was held on April 27, 2016 in El Dorado, Arkansas and in Alexandria, Louisiana. (Tr. 232-254). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Mary Thomason. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Beverly Majors testified at this hearing. Id.

         On April 27, 2016, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's disability applications. (Tr. 137-150). The ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2017. (Tr. 142, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since August 20, 2014, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 142, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: myalgias, osteoarthritis, and coronary artery disease. (Tr. 142-144, Finding 3). The ALJ also determined that 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. 144-145, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 145-149, Finding 5). First, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff' subjective complaints and found they were not entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following RFC:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b).

Id.

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 149, Finding 6). Considering her RFC, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform her PRW as a cashier (light, unskilled), convenient store clerk (light, semi-skilled), and nursing home or school cafeteria cook (medium, skilled). Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability (as defined by the Act) from August 20, 2014 (application date) through September 28, 2016 (ALJ's decision date). (Tr. 149, Finding 7).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. On September 25, 2017, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 1-3). On October 17, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this case. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs and have consented to the jurisdiction of this Court. ECF Nos. 5, 12-13. This case is now ready for determination.

         2. Applicable Law:

         In 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 ...


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