United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
Barry A. Bryant, U.S. Magistrate Judge.
Mansfield, (“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. 5. 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 October 3,
2012. (Tr. 261). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due to migraines and bulging disc in neck. (Tr.
320). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of January 1, 2009.
(Tr. 261). Her application was denied initially and again
upon reconsideration. (Tr. 81-82).
requested an administrative hearing on her denied
application. (Tr. 162-163). The request was granted and
Plaintiff's initial administrative hearing was held on
February 11, 2014. (Tr. 48-67). Following this, on April 30,
2014, the ALJ issued a decision denying Plaintiff's Title
II application. (Tr. 112-134). Plaintiff then requested the
Appeals Council review the decision, and the Appeals Council
vacated the April 30, 2014 decision and remanded the case.
13, 2016 Plaintiff had her second hearing. (Tr. 68-80).
Plaintiff was present and was represented by, Stanley
Brummal. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Juanita Grant testified at the hearing.
Id. At the time of the hearing, Plaintiff was
forty-four (44) years old and had completed the twelfth
grade. (Tr. 261, 321).
the hearing, on August 30, 2016, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for
DIB. (Tr. 27-40). In this decision, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act
through December 31, 2017. (Tr. 30, Finding 1). The also ALJ
determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful
Activity (“SGA”) since January 1, 2009. (Tr. 30,
found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
migraine headaches, cervical spine degenerative disc disease,
mixed sleep apnea, anemia, obesity, anxiety disorder,
depressive disorder, and narcotics abuse. (Tr. 30, 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.
31, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 33-39, 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 light work, except can
understand, remember, and carry out no more than simple, one
to three step instructions with no more than occasional
contact with the public and coworkers. Id.
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 39, Finding 6). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff was capable of performing her PRW as a cafeteria
worker. Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ
determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as
defined in the Act, from January 1, 2009, through the date of
the decision. (Tr. 39, Finding 7).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's decision. (Tr. 22). The Appeals Council denied this
request for review. (Tr. 16-19). On March 13, 2018, Plaintiff
filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed
appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 14, 19. This case is now ready for
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. §§