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Mazariegos v. Berryhill

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

January 7, 2019

JESSIKA MAZARIEGOS PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Jessika Mazariegos (“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.

         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.[1] 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 13, 2015. (Tr. 27). In her applications, Plaintiff alleges she was disabled due to back problems and diabetes. (Tr. 228). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of October 13, 2015. (Tr. 27). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 62-102).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 37-61, 118). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on August 25, 2016 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. (Tr. 37-61). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, David Harp. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Dr. Larry Sirus testified at the hearing in this matter. Id.

         On November 25, 2016, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision on Plaintiff's disability applications. (Tr. 17-31). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through September 30, 2017. (Tr. 25, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since October 13, 2015, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 25, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, degenerative disc disease of the lumbosacral spine and bulging discs at ¶ 3-4, L4-5 and L5-S1 (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)). (Tr. 25, Finding 3). Despite being severe, the ALJ also determined Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 25-26, Finding 4).

         The ALJ determined Plaintiff had a high school education and was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 30, Finding 8). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff was thirty-six (36) years old, which is defined as a “younger individual” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (DIB) and under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c) (SSI). (Tr. 30, Finding 7).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 26-30, Finding 5). Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff retained 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 sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a).

Id.

         The ALJ determined Plaintiff was unable to perform any of her Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 30, Finding 6). The ALJ, however, found Plaintiff did retain the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 31, Finding 10). In making this determination, the ALJ applied the Medical-Vocational Guidelines or the “Grids.” Id. Specifically, under Rule 201.28, Plaintiff was“not disabled.” Id. Based upon this Rule, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined in the Act, from October 13, 2015 through the date of the decision or through November 25, 2016. (Tr. 31, Finding 11).

         Plaintiff requested that the Appeals Council's review the ALJ's unfavorable disability determination. (Tr. 1-4). On October 26, 2017, the Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's disability determination. Id. On November 9, 2017, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on November 21, 2017. ECF No. 7. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 17-18. This case is now ready for decision.

         2. Ap ...


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