United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
BARRY A. BRYANT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Schubach (“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.
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.
protectively filed her disability applications on January 7,
2015. (Tr. 19). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges
being disabled due to Turner's Syndrome, a back injury, a
hearing impairment, and a low IQ. (Tr. 208). Plaintiff
alleges an onset date of October 24, 2014. (Tr. 19). These
applications were denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 49-105).
Plaintiff's applications were denied, Plaintiff requested
an administrative hearing on these applications, and this
hearing request was granted. (Tr. 119-146). Thereafter, on
March 2, 2016, the SSA held an administrative hearing on
Plaintiff's applications in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was
represented by Nick Coleman. Id. Plaintiff and
Vocational Expert (“VE”) Larry Seifert testified
at this hearing. Id.
August 29, 2016, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ
entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's
applications. (Tr. 12-27). The ALJ found Plaintiff met the
insured status requirements of the Act through December 31,
2019. (Tr. 21, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had
not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since October 24, 2014, her alleged onset
date. (Tr. 21, Finding 2).
determined Plaintiff had the following medically determinable
impairments: borderline intellectual functioning, adjustment
disorder with depressed and anxious mood, chronic lumbar
strain, thoracic back pain, chronic hearing problems, and
Turner's Syndrome. (Tr. 21, Finding 3). The ALJ, however,
determined none of these impairments were
“severe” within the meaning of the Act. (Tr.
21-27, Finding 4). Thus, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not
been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from October
24, 2014 through the date of his decision or through August
29, 2016. (Tr. 27, Finding 5).
Plaintiff requested the review of the Appeals Council. On
August 24, 2017, the Appeals Council denied this request for
review. (Tr. 5-10). On October 24, 2017, Plaintiff filed her
Complaint in this matter. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to
the jurisdiction of this Court on November 10, 2017. ECF No.
7. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 14-15.
This case is now ready for decision.
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. §§
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,