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Moore v. Berryhill

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

January 31, 2019

CARLA MOORE PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Carla Moore (“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”) and a period of disability under Title II 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 DIB application on October 14, 2014. (Tr. 40). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to anxiety, high blood pressure, lumbar spondylosis, facet arthropathy, disc disease, and breathing problems. (Tr. 220). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of December 1, 2010. (Tr. 40). Her DIB application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 111-139).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 156). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on October 20, 2016 in Alexandria, Louisiana. (Tr. 60-89). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Greg Giles. Id. Plaintiff and Medical Expert (“ME”) Dr. Kweli J. Amusa testified at this hearing. Id.

         On December 21, 2016, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's DIB application. (Tr. 37-50). The ALJ determined Plaintiff last met the insured status requirements of the Act on December 31, 2015. (Tr. 42, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) during the period from her alleged onset date of December 1, 2010 through her date last insured of December 31, 2015. (Tr. 42, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the cervical and lumbar spine and hypertension. (Tr. 42-44, 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. 44-45, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 45-49, 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, through the date last insured, the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a).

Id.

         The ALJ determined Plaintiff was forty-four (44) years old, which is defined as a “younger individual” under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (2008), on her date last insured. (Tr. 49, Finding 7). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had a limited education and was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 49, Finding 8).

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and determined that, through her date last insured, Plaintiff was unable to perform any PRW. (Tr. 49, Finding 6). The ALJ also considered whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 49, Finding 10). The ALJ applied the Medical-Vocational Guidelines or “Grids” in making this determination. Id. Based upon Rule 201.25 of the Grids, the ALJ found Plaintiff was “not disabled.” Id. Accordingly, the ALJ found Plaintiff was not under a disability, as defined by the Act, at any time from December 1, 2010 (her alleged onset date) through December 31, 2015 (her date last insured). (Tr. 49, Finding 11).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. On December 6, 2017, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 6-9). On January 30, 2018, 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, 13-14.

         2. Ap ...


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