United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
Barry A. Bryant, U.S. Magistrate Judge.
Delois Pace, (“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. 10. Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this
memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment
in this matter.
protectively filed her application for DIB on December 17,
2008. (Tr. 186-189). In this application, Plaintiff alleges
being disabled due to back and shoulder problems, eyesight,
and heart problems. (Tr. 208). Plaintiff alleges an onset
date of October 7, 2008. (Tr. 261). Her application was
denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 93-95).
requested an administrative hearing on her denied
application. (Tr. 100-105). Following this, the ALJ issued
unfavorable decisions on February 23, 2011 and December 21,
2012, which were vacated. (Tr. 7-21, 52-92, 453-466,
476-487). Based on a subsequent application, on October 30,
2013, Plaintiff was determined to be disabled as of December
22, 2012. (Tr. 403, 485). As a result of that finding, the
period currently at issue runs from Plaintiff's alleged
onset date of October 7, 2008, through December 21, 2012.
last administrative hearing was held on November 10, 2016.
(Tr. 421-452). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was
represented by counsel, Michael Angel. Id. Plaintiff
and Vocational Expert (“VE”) James Wallace
testified at the hearing. Id. At the time of the
hearing, Plaintiff was sixty-one (61) years old and had an
eleventh grade education. (Tr. 425-426).
the hearing, on February 9, 2017, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for
DIB. (Tr. 403-413). In this decision, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act
through December 31, 2013. (Tr. 405, Finding 1). The also ALJ
determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful
Activity (“SGA”) from October 7, 2008 through
December 31, 2013. (Tr. 405, Finding 2).
found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease, left shoulder capsulitis, right
shoulder tendinopathy and partial tear. (Tr. 405, Finding 3).
Despite being severe, the ALJ determined those 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. 409, Finding
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 409-411, 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 RFC to perform medium level work that
did not require more than occasional overhead reaching with
her left upper extremity. Id.
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 411, Finding 6). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff was unable to perform any PRW. Id. The
ALJ, however, also determined there was other work existing
in significant numbers in the national economy Plaintiff
could perform. (Tr. 412, Finding 10). The ALJ based this
determination upon the testimony of the VE. Id.
Specifically, the VE testified that given all Plaintiff's
vocational factors, a hypothetical individual would be able
to perform the requirements of representative occupations
such as bagger with approximately 125, 900 such jobs in the
nation and cook's helper with approximately 271, 975 such
jobs in the nation. Id. Based upon this finding, the
ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as
defined in the Act, from October 7, 2008 through December 21,
2012. (Tr. 413, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's decision and the Appeals Council denied this
request for review. (Tr. 394-396). On September 15, 2017,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties
have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 24, 31. This case is now
ready for decision.
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. §§