United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
RONETTE L. DILEY PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES
BARRY A. BRYANT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
L. Diley (“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 applications for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”), Supplemental Security
Income (“SSI”), and a period of disability under
Titles II and XVI of the Act.
to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and (3)
(2009), the Honorable P. K. Holmes, III referred this case to
this Court for the purpose of making a report and
recommendation. In accordance with that referral, and after
reviewing the arguments in this case, this Court recommends
Plaintiff's case be REVERSED AND
protectively filed her disability applications on June 22,
2014 (DIB) and on February 29, 2016 (SSI). (Tr. 18). In her
applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to
depression, vision problems, chronic back pain, and chronic
leg pain. (Tr. 193). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of
February 13, 2008. (Tr. 18). Her applications were denied
initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 66-84).
requested an administrative hearing on her denied
applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr.
34-65). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on
February 25, 2016 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Id. At
this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by
Laura McKinnon. Id. Plaintiff, a witness for
Plaintiff, and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Debra
Steele testified at this hearing. Id. At this
hearing, Plaintiff testified she was forty-four (44) years
old, which is defined as a “younger individual”
under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (2008) and 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.963(c) (2008), on her alleged disability onset
date. Id. Plaintiff also testified she had a high
school education. (Tr. 39).
February 15, 2017, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ
entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's
disability applications. (Tr. 11-28). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act
through June 30, 2013. (Tr. 20, Finding 1). The ALJ
determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful
Activity (“SGA”) since February 13, 2008, her
alleged onset date. (Tr. 20, Finding 2). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff had the following severe impairment: obesity. (Tr.
20-24, Finding 3). The ALJ also determined 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. 24-25, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (Tr. 25-27, Finding 5). First, the ALJ
evaluated Plaintiff's 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 the full range of medium work
as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) and 416.967(c).
(Tr. 25-27, Finding 5).
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 27-28, Finding 6). Considering her
RFC and vocational profile, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was
capable of performing her PRW as a billing clerk, school
secretary, an data entry clerk. Id. Notably, the ALJ
determined this work did not require the performance of
work-related activities precluded by her RFC. Id.
Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not
been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from February
13, 2008 (alleged onset date) through February 15, 2017
(ALJ's decision date). (Tr. 28, Finding 7).
Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. (Tr. 5-8).
On November 29, 2017, the Appeals Council denied this request
for review. Id. On January 31, 2018, Plaintiff filed
a Complaint in this case. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed
appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 12-13.
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) (2010); 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 ...