United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Bennett (“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”) under Title II 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. 4. 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 August 24, 2015. (Tr. 15).
In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to
carpel tunnel, right shoulder injury, ganglion cyst, limited
education, difficulty with English language, high blood
pressure, breathing issues, and obesity. (Tr. 179). Plaintiff
alleges an onset date of July 22, 2015. (Tr. 15). Her
application was denied initially and again upon
requested an administrative hearing on her denied
application. (Tr. 91-92). This hearing request was granted,
and Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on
January 10, 2017. (Tr. 30-56). At this hearing, Plaintiff was
present and was represented by counsel, Michael Hamby.
Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Elizabeth Clem testified at this hearing.
April 11, 2017, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ
entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's
disability application. (Tr. 15-24). In this decision, the
ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements
of the Act through December 31, 2020. (Tr. 17, Finding 1).
The ALJ also determined Plaintiff had not engaged in
Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since July
22, 2015, the alleged onset date. (Tr. 17, Finding2).
then determined Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: degenerative joint disease, obesity, asthma, and
hypertension. (Tr. 17, 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. 17,
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (Tr. 18-21, 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 for sedentary work, except
she could occasionally stoop and reach overhead with the
dominant upper extremity, and could have no exposure to
respiratory irritants. Id.
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 21, 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.
23, 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 inspector with 200, 000 such jobs nationally and
assembly with 150, 000 such jobs nationally. Id.
Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not
been under a disability (as defined by the Act) from July 22,
2015 through the date of the ALJ's decision. (Tr. 23,
sought review with the Appeals Council. On November 15, 2017,
the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr.
1-6). On January 10, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in
this case. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs.
ECF Nos. 10, 11. 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. §§