United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division
KAREN C. RANDALL PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Commissioner Acting Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
C. Randall (“Plaintiff”) brings this action under
42 U.S.C. § 205(g) 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 decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) denying her applications for Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”), Disability Insurance
Benefits (“DIB”), 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. 8. Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
September 12, 2014, the Plaintiff protectively filed her
applications. (Tr. 17, 189-195). In her applications,
Plaintiff alleges she was disabled due to type 2 diabetes,
benign essential hypertension, allergic rhinitis, lumbar
degenerative disc disease, fibromyalgia, stress, fatigue,
depression, and headaches beginning June 2, 2014. (Tr. 189,
216, 267, 272277). These claims were denied initially on
April 9, 2015, and upon reconsideration on July 17, 2015.
(Tr. 135, 139).
Plaintiff filed a written request for hearing on her
application and this application was granted. (Tr. 141, 156).
An administrative hearing was held on June 27, 2016, before
the honorable Rowena E. DeLoach, Administrative Law Judge, in
El Dorado, Arkansas. (Tr. 67-95). At the administrative
hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by
counsel, Randolph Baltz. (Tr. 69). Plaintiff and Vocational
Expert (“VE”) Charles Smith, testified at this
January 11, 2017, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision on
Plaintiff's disability applications. (Tr. 19). In this
decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status
requirements of the Act through December 31, 2019. (Tr. 19,
Finding 1). The ALJ also found Plaintiff had not engaged in
Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since June
2, 2014, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 19, Finding 2).
determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease of the lumbar and cervical spine,
obesity, depression, and personality disorder. (Tr. 19-20,
Finding 3). The ALJ additionally found Plaintiff had
non-severe impairments of fibromyalgia and diabetes. (Tr. 19,
Finding 3). The ALJ, however, 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. 20, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 22-31, Finding 5).
First, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined they were not entirely credible.
Id. Second, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained
the RFC for the following:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(b) with no overhead reaching, and
with occasional interaction with the general public,
coworkers and supervisors. Id.
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”) and determined she was incapable of
performing any of her past relevant work. (Tr. 27, Finding
6). The ALJ did, however, determine Plaintiff retained the
capacity to perform other work existing in significant
numbers in the national economy, specifically that of a price
marker, housekeeper, or deli cutter and slicer. (Tr. 28,
Finding 10). The ALJ concluded Plaintiff had not been under
disability under the Act from June 2, 2014 through the date
of his decision. (Tr. 29, Finding 11).
requested the Appeals Council review the ALJ's
unfavorable disability determination. (Tr. 186). On November
7, 2017, the Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's
disability determination. (Tr. 1-4). Plaintiff filed the
present appeal on January 5, 2018. ECF No. 1. The Parties
consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on January 23,
2018. ECF No. 8. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF
Nos. 17-18. 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) (2006); 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. §423(d)(1)(A).
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; ...