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Warren v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

February 5, 2019

TRACIE WARREN PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Tracie Warren (“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 February 26, 2015. (Tr. 117). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to fibromyalgia, lupus, depression, severe anxiety, and thyroid disease. (Tr. 350). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of February 2, 2015. (Tr. 117). Her DIB application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 236-267).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 200-235). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on November 7, 2016 in Shreveport, Louisiana. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Stanley Brummel. Id. Plaintiff, a witness for Plaintiff, and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Dale Thomas testified at this hearing. Id.

         On April 12, 2017, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's disability application. (Tr. 114-126). The ALJ determined Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2018. (Tr. 119, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since February 2, 2015, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 119, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease, history of fibromyalgia, and anxiety disorder. (Tr. 119-120, 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. 120-121, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 121-124, 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 the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except lifting 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; carrying 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; sitting for 6 hours, standing for 6 hours, walking for 6 hours, pushing/pulling as much as she can lift/carry. The claimant can climb ramps and stairs occasionally, climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds occasionally, and balance, stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl occasionally. She is limited to perform simple, routine tasks; occasionally respond to supervisors, coworkers, and the public.

Id.

         The ALJ determined Plaintiff was forty-three (43) years old, which is defined as a “younger individual” under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c) (2008), on her alleged disability onset date. (Tr. 125, Finding 7). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had at least a high school education and was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 125, Finding 8).

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and determined Plaintiff was unable to perform any of her PRW. (Tr. 124-125, Finding 6). The ALJ also considered whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 125-126, Finding 10). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id. Based upon that testimony, the ALJ found Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform work as a bench assembler (light, unskilled) with 108, 000 such jobs in the national economy; laundry worker (light, unskilled) with 306, 000 such jobs in the national economy; and hand packager (light, unskilled) with 57, 000 such jobs in the national economy. Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from February 2, 2015 (application date) through April 12, 2017 (ALJ's decision date). (Tr. 126, Finding 11).

         Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. On November 29, 2017, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr. 7-10). On January 18, 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, 12-13.

         2.Applicable ...


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