United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
LORI M. FUSHER PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL DEFENDANT Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration
BARRY A. BRYANT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Fusher (“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. 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 application on October 24,
2014. (Tr. 14). In her application, Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due to bipolar disorder, borderline personality
disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, bulging
discs with annular tear, sciatica, a curved spine, arthritis,
and nerve pain. (Tr. 204). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of
September 14, 2009. (Tr. 14). At the administrative hearing
in this matter, Plaintiff amended that alleged onset date to
July 13, 2013. (Tr. 38-39). This application was denied
initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 89-127).
requested an administrative hearing in this matter, and this
hearing was held on January 14, 2016 in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
(Tr. 30-68). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was
represented by Fred Caddell. Id. Only Plaintiff and
Vocational Expert (“VE”) Barbara Hubbard
testified at this hearing. Id.
this administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully
unfavorable decision on Plaintiff's application. (Tr.
11-24). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff last met
the insured status requirements of the Act on December 31,
2014. (Tr. 16, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not
engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”)
during the period from her alleged onset date of September
14, 2009 through her date last insured of December
31, 2014. (Tr. 16, Finding 2). The ALJ determined that,
through her date last insured, Plaintiff had the following
severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the lumbar
spine; central disc bulge at ¶ 2-L3 with annular tear;
bipolar II disorder; depression; history of alcohol abuse;
personality disorder with borderline and dependent traits;
and obesity. (Tr. 16, Finding 3). The ALJ also determined
Plaintiff's 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. 16-18, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 18-23, Finding 5).
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 capacity to perform the following:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that, through the date last insured, the
claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform
light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except the
claimant can perform work where interpersonal contact is
incidental to the work performed, where the complexity of
tasks is performed and learned by rote with few variables and
little judgment, and where supervision required is simple,
direct and concrete. The claimant can occasionally push,
pull, kneel, and/or crouch. The claimant would require a
sit/stand option to be exercised at one-hour intervals
throughout the workday.
determined Plaintiff was forty-three (43) years old, which is
defined as a “younger individual” under 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1563(c), on her date last insured. (Tr. 23,
Finding 7). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff had at least a
high school education and was able to communicate in English.
(Tr. 23, Finding 8).
her RFC, the ALJ determined that, through her date last
insured, Plaintiff did not retain the capacity to perform any
of her PRW. (Tr. 23, Finding 6). The ALJ then determined
whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work
existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr.
23-24, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative
hearing regarding this issue. Id.
upon that testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained
the capacity to perform the requirements of representative
occupations such as the following: (1) hotel
cleaner/housekeeper with approximately 1, 200 such jobs in
the regional economy and 137, 000 such jobs in the national
economy; (2) marking clerk with approximately 2, 400 such
jobs in the regional economy and 283, 200 such jobs in the
national economy; and (3) routing clerk with approximately
540 such jobs in the regional economy and 53, 000 such jobs
in the national economy. (Tr. 24). Because Plaintiff retained
the capacity to perform this other work, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff had not been under a disability (as defined by the
Act) at any time from September 14, 2009 (her alleged onset
date) through December 31, 2014 (her date last insured). (Tr.
24, Finding 11).
then requested the Appeals Council's review of this
unfavorable decision. (Tr. 5-7. On December 13, 2017, the
Appeals Council denied this request for review. Id.
Then, on January 8, 2018, Plaintiff filed her Complaint in
this action. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs
and have ...