United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Cogburn (“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 decision of the Commissioner of
the Social Security Administration (“SSA”)
denying her application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II 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. 5. Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
April 1, 2015, Plaintiff protectively filed her application.
(Tr. 20, 183, 195). In her application, Plaintiff alleges she
was disabled due to spinal degeneration and stenosis in her
neck and back, bulging or herniated discs in her back, muscle
spasms in her shoulder and left foot, kidney failure, neck
stiffness, chronic pain, low blood pressure, metabolic
disease, shortness of breath, shock, blood infection, urinary
tract infection, and depression with an alleged onset date of
December 25, 2013. (Tr. 20, 195, 250, 282). The claim was
denied initially on August 17, 2015, and again upon
reconsideration on October 10, 2015. (Tr. 20, 96-116, 116-18,
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her
application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 20,
126, 143). An administrative hearing was held on August 8,
2016, in Hot Springs, Arkansas. (Tr. 20, 34-70). At the
administrative hearing, Plaintiff was present and was
represented by counsel, Shannon Muse Carrol. (Tr. 34-70).
Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Kathy
Mundy testified at this hearing. Id. Plaintiff's
sister, Gladys V. Kreider, also testified. Id. On
the date of this hearing, Plaintiff testified she was
forty-seven (47) years old, which is defined as a
“younger person” under 20. C.F.R. §
416.963(c) (SSI), and testified she had graduated from high
school. (Tr. 39-40).
January 24, 2017, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision on
Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 17-29). In this decision,
the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements
of the Act through December 21, 2016. (Tr. 22, Finding 1).
The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial
Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since December 25, 2013,
the initial application date. (Tr. 22, Finding 2). The ALJ
determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease of the back and depression. (Tr.
22, Finding 3). The ALJ, however, also determined Plaintiff
did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that
met or medically equaled one of the listed impairments in 20
C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 22-23, Finding
decision, the ALJ evaluated the Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 24-27, Finding 5).
First, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined they were not entirely consistent
with the evidence in the record. Id. Second, the ALJ
determined Plaintiff retained the RFC for the following:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in
20 CFR 416.967(a) except: the claimant could occasionally
climb, stoop, crouch, kneel, and crawl. She can lift ten
pounds, performing work at the sitting position for six to
eight hours of an eight-hour workday, one to two hours with
no restrictions. The claimant can stand or walk for one to
two hours out of an eight-hour day with no restrictions and
no more than one-half hour at a time. She is restricted in
bilateral reaching overhead because of pain. She is limited
to unskilled, rote activities. The claimant can understand,
remember, and follow concrete instructions. She can have
superficial contact with the general public, coworkers,
supervisors. The claimant can meet, greet, make change, and
give simple instructions and directions.
the assistance of the Vocational Expert, the ALJ evaluated
Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and
determined she was unable to perform any of her PRW. (Tr. 27,
Finding 6). The ALJ did, however, determine Plaintiff
retained the capacity to perform other work existing in
significant numbers in the national economy, specifically
that of a hand sorter, final assembler, or hand labeler. (Tr.
27-28, Finding 10). The ALJ based this determination upon the
testimony of the Vocational Expert. (Tr. 27-28, Finding 10).
The ALJ found Plaintiff was not disabled for the duration of
the relevant time period, from December 25, 2013, through
December 31, 2016. (Tr. 28, Finding 11).
requested that the Appeals Council's review the ALJ's
unfavorable disability determination. (Tr. 179). Plaintiff
submitted additional medical evidence to the Appeals Council,
none of which was considered. (Tr. 1-4, 8, 70-76). On October
31, 2017, the Appeals Council declined to review the
ALJ's disability determination. (Tr. 1-4). On December
12, 2017, 2017, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No.
1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on
December 12, 2017. ECF No. 5. Both Parties have filed appeal
briefs. ECF Nos. 13, 16. This case is now ready for decision.
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 ...