United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Rhea Nichols (“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”) and Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”) 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.
protectively filed her applications for DIB and SSI benefits
on August 1, 2012. (Tr. 322-331). Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due to due to bipolar disorder, depression, and
attention deficit hyperactivity. (Tr. 385). Plaintiff alleges
an onset date of August 1, 2010. Id. These
applications were denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 147-153, 161-164). Thereafter,
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her
applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr.
29, 2015, Plaintiff had her administrative hearing. (Tr.
27-40). Following this hearing, the ALJ issued an unfavorable
decision on August 27, 2015. (Tr. 126-136). On September 9,
2016, the Appeals Council vacated the ALJ's decision and
remanded the case. (Tr. 144-145).
second administrative hearing was held on April 18, 2017.
(Tr. 41-66). At the administrative hearing, Plaintiff was
present and was represented by counsel, Matthew Golden.
Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Wilfred Roux testified at this hearing.
Id. On the date of this hearing, Plaintiff was forty
(40) years old and had a high school education with some
college. (Tr. 19, 386).
25, 2017, subsequent to the hearing, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision on Plaintiff's applications. (Tr.
10-20). In this decision, the ALJ determined the Plaintiff
met the insured status of the Act through March 31, 2015.
(Tr. 13, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff had
not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since August 1, 2010. (Tr. 13, Finding
determined Plaintiff had severe impairments of bipolar
disorder and anxiety. (Tr. 13, Finding 3). The ALJ also
determined Plaintiff's 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. 14, Finding 4)
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”). (Tr. 15-19, Finding 5). First, the ALJ
indicated he 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 a full range of work at all exertional
levels, except can understand, remember and carry out short,
simple instructions; can perform simple, routine tasks with
no fast-paced high quota production work; can make only
simple work related decisions; can adapt too few, if any,
workplace changes; and can tolerate only occasional
interaction with co-workers, supervisors and the general
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 19, Finding 6). The ALJ found
Plaintiff was unable to perform her PRW. Id. The
ALJ, however, also determined there was other work existing
in significant numbers in the national economy Plaintiff
could perform. (Tr. 19-20, Finding 10). The ALJ based his
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 a representative occupation
such as a housekeeper with approximately 929, 540 such jobs
in the nation, dry cleaner worker with approximately 199, 330
such jobs in the nation, and mailroom sorter with
approximately 99, 190 such jobs in the nation. Id.
Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not
been under a disability as defined by the Act from August 1,
2010, through the date of the decision. (Tr. 20, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council review the ALJ's
decision. (Tr. 5-6). See 20 C.F.R. § 404.968.
The Appeals Council declined to review this unfavorable
decision. (Tr. 1-4). On February 15, 2018, Plaintiff filed
the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the
jurisdiction of this Court. ECF No. 8. Both Parties have
filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 22, 23. This case is now ready
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 ...