United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Owens, (“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 February 10,
2015. (Tr. 10). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due to back pain, pain in left leg, heart
arrhythmia, sleep apnea, diabetes, high blood pressure, and
fatigue. (Tr. 165). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of July
29, 2014. (Tr. 10). Her application was denied initially and
again upon reconsideration. Id.
requested an administrative hearing on her denied
application. (Tr. 96-97). The request was granted and
Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on May 19,
2016. (Tr. 24-63). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and
was represented by counsel, Greg Giles. Id.
Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) James
Wallace testified at the hearing. Id. At the time of
the hearing, Plaintiff was fifty (50) years old and had a
high school education. (Tr. 161, 166).
the hearing, on July 13, 2017, the ALJ entered an unfavorable
decision denying Plaintiff's application for DIB. (Tr.
10-19). In this decision, the ALJ determined the Plaintiff
met the insured status requirements of the Act through June
30, 2015. (Tr. 12, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined
Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) from July 29, 2014 through her last date
insured of June 30, 2015. (Tr. 12, Finding 2).
then found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
cervical and lumbar spine degenerative disc disease; heart
arrhythmia; arthritis of the knee; and diabetes mellitus.
(Tr. 13, 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. 13, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 14-17, 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 a restricted range of
light work limited to occasional climbing of ladders, ropes
and scaffolds; frequent climbing ramps and stairs; and
frequent stooping, crouching and crawling. Id.
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 17, Finding 6). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff was capable of performing her PRW as a grader dress
poultry and daycare worker. Id. Based upon this
finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a
disability, as defined in the Act, from July 29, 2014,
through the date last insured of June 30, 2015. (Tr. 18,
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's decision. (Tr. 144-145). The Appeals Council denied
this request for review. (Tr. 1-4). On March 14, 2018,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties
have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 12, 13. 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. §§
423(d)(3), 1382(3)(c). A plaintiff must show that his or her
disability, not simply his or her impairment, has lasted for
at least twelve consecutive months. See 42 U.S.C.
determine whether the adult claimant suffers from a
disability, the Commissioner uses the familiar five-step
sequential evaluation. He determines: (1) whether the
claimant is presently engaged in a “substantial gainful
activity”; (2) whether the claimant has a severe
impairment that significantly limits the claimant's
physical or mental ability to perform basic work activities;
(3) whether the claimant has an impairment that meets or
equals a presumptively disabling impairment listed in the
regulations (if so, the claimant is disabled without regard
to age, education, and work experience); (4) whether the
claimant has the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to
perform his or her past relevant work; and (5) if the
claimant cannot perform the past work, the burden shifts to
the Commissioner to prove that there are other jobs in the
national economy that the claimant can perform. See
Cox, 160 F.3d at 1206; 20 C.F.R. ...