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Edwards v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division

February 26, 2019

CHRISTINA LEE EDWARDS PLAINTIFF
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Christina Lee Edwards (“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 Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Act.

         Pursuant 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 REMANDED.

         1. Background:

         Plaintiff protectively filed her SSI application on April 10, 2014. (Tr. 10). In her application, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to a head injury. (Tr. 293). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of December 31, 2013. (Tr. 10). Her application was denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 125-148).

         Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her denied application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 32-124). Plaintiff had two administrative hearings, one on May 18, 2015 and one on November 2, 2016. Id. Plaintiff's second administrative hearing was held on November 2, 2016 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. (Tr. 76-124). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Jim O'Hearn. Id. Plaintiff, three witnesses for Plaintiff, and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Jim Spraggens testified at this hearing. Id.

         On May 15, 2017, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's disability application. (Tr. 7-31). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since April 10, 2014, her application date. (Tr. 12, Finding 1). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: history of subarachnoid hemorrhage status post-coiling; hypertension; cognitive disorder not otherwise specified (NOS); and anxiety disorder. (Tr. 12, Finding 2). 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. 12-14, Finding 3).

         The ALJ determined Plaintiff was forty (40) years old, which is defined as a “younger individual” under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c) (2008), on her alleged disability onset date. (Tr. 23, Finding 6). Plaintiff also testified she had a limited education but was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 23, Finding 7).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). (Tr. 14-23, Finding 4). 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 light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except she must avoid concentrated exposure to hazards including no driving as a part of work. Th claimant is further capable of work where interpersonal contact is incidental to work performed, tasks are no more complex than those learned and performed by rote, with few variables and little use of judgment, and supervision required is simple, direct and concrete.

Id.

         The ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”) and found Plaintiff was unable to perform any of her PRW. (Tr. 23, Finding 5). The ALJ then considered whether Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 24, Finding 9). The VE testified at the administrative hearing regarding this issue. Id.

         Based upon that testimony, the ALJ found Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform light, unskilled work such as bottling line attendant with 332, 680 such jobs in the nation and 2, 870 jobs in Arkansas and gasket attacher with 232, 560 such jobs in the nation and 3, 900 such jobs in Arkansas. Id. The ALJ also found Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform sedentary, unskilled work such as label cutter machine operator with 800 such jobs in the nation and 160 such jobs in Arkansas and ordinance check weigher with 13, 000 such jobs in the nation and 170 such jobs in Arkansas. Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from April 10, 2014 (application date) through May 18, 2017 (ALJ's decision date). (Tr. 25, Finding 10).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff sought review with the Appeals Council. (Tr. 1-4). On January 24, 2018, the Appeals Council denied this request for review. Id. On March 26, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this case. ...


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