United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
DELORES J. BURCHAM PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Commissioner Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Deloris J. Burcham, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), seeking judicial review of a decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(Commissioner) denying her claims for a period of disability
and disability insurance benefits (DIB) under the provisions
of Title II of the Social Security Act (Act). In this
judicial review, the Court must determine whether there is
substantial evidence in the administrative record to support
the Commissioner's decision. See 42 U.S.C.
protectively filed her current application for DIB on July
23, 2015, alleging an inability to work since May 31, 2009,
due to high blood pressure, anxiety, panic attacks, bone
thinning (osteoporosis), muscle weakness and blackouts. (Tr.
57, 131). For DIB purposes, Plaintiff maintained insured
status through December 31, 2014. (Tr. 11, 138). An
administrative hearing was held on August 2, 2016, at which
Plaintiff, after being informed of her right to
representation, testified without the assistance of a
representative. (Tr. 25-55).
written decision dated January 10, 2017, the ALJ found that
during the relevant time period, Plaintiff had an impairment
or combination of impairments that were severe. (Tr.13).
Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the following
severe impairments prior to her date last insured: anxiety.
However, after reviewing all of the evidence presented, the
ALJ determined that before the expiration of her insured
status Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or equal the
level of severity of any impairment listed in the Listing of
Impairments found in Appendix I, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4.
(Tr. 14). The ALJ found prior to the expiration of her
insured status Plaintiff retained the residual functional
capacity (RFC) to:
perform a full range of work at all exertional level but with
the following nonexertional limitations: the claimant can
perform simple, routine, repetitive tasks in a setting where
interpersonal contact is incidental to the work performed.
The Claimant can respond to supervision that is simple,
direct and concrete.
(Tr. 15). With the help of a vocational expert, the ALJ
determined that through her date last insured Plaintiff could
perform her past relevant work as a farm laborer and a hotel
housekeeper. (Tr. 17). The ALJ further found that Plaintiff
could also perform other work as a hand packager, a
merchandise marker and a compact assembler. (Tr. 18).
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied that request on January 8,
2018. (Tr. 1-5). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action.
(Doc. 1). Both parties have filed appeal briefs, and the case
is before the undersigned for report and recommendation.
(Docs. 10, 11).
Court has reviewed the entire transcript. The complete set of
facts and arguments are presented in the parties' briefs,
and are repeated here only to the extent necessary.
administrative hearing held before the ALJ on August 2, 2016,
Plaintiff, who was fifty-nine years of age, testified that
she obtained a high school education. (Tr. 28).
Plaintiff's past relevant work consists of work as a farm
laborer, a hotel housekeeper and a home health aide. (Tr.
pertinent medical evidence before the ALJ during the relevant
time period reflects the following. On June 4, 2009,
Plaintiff was seen by Dr. John R. Williams for a follow up
for her anxiety. (Tr. 349). Plaintiff reported she had been
fired from her job the previous day. Plaintiff reported she
was fired for not agreeing with her evaluation. Plaintiff
reported experiencing stress with her work arrangement.
Plaintiff was noted to be taking Prozac. After examining
Plaintiff, Dr. Williams assessed Plaintiff with acute
bronchitis and depression. Dr. Williams opined that much of
Plaintiff's depression was situational but her medication
needed to be increased.
15, 2009, Plaintiff was seen in the Cooper Clinic due to back
and knee pain. (Tr. 257-261, 270-272). Plaintiff reported
that she was cleaning a jacuzzi at work on June
2nd, and fell. Plaintiff reported that she had
since been fired but was in for a workman's compensation
evaluation. Upon examination, Plaintiff was found to have
full range of motion of the neck and moved all extremities
well. Plaintiff was able to squat with minimal difficulty
with the left knee. Plaintiff was assessed with left knee
pain, thoracic back pain and low back pain. Dr. Jason D.
Richey recommended Plaintiff use anti-inflammatories and
return in two weeks.
30, 2009, Plaintiff was seen in the Cooper Clinic on a
workman's compensation visit. (Tr. 256). Treatment notes
indicated Plaintiff fell in the lodge while cleaning and
complained of back and knee pain. Upon examination, Dr.
Richey noted that Plaintiff moved all extremities well.
Plaintiff was assessed with thoracic back pain and left knee
pain. Plaintiff was to undergo physical therapy and return in
three weeks. Plaintiff participated in physical therapy from
July 1, 2009, through July 29, 2009. (Tr. 266-269).
November 21, 2011, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Thinh D. Nguyen
for mental health treatment and her blood pressure. (Tr.
347-348). Plaintiff reported that she went to the emergency
room two weeks ago after feeling dizzy upon standing.
Plaintiff reported that her blood pressure was found to be
high and she was placed on Ativan. Plaintiff reported that
she did not feel more stress in her life but admitted she was
an anxious person. Plaintiff reported she liked being on
Ativan. Plaintiff also wanted to stop smoking. After
examining Plaintiff, Dr. Nguyen assessed Plaintiff with
depression with anxiety, current every day smoker and benign
December 5, 2011, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Nguyen for a
follow up appointment. (Tr. 346-347). Dr. Nguyen noted
Plaintiff's blood pressure was asymptomatic and improved
and her anxiety had decreased. Plaintiff's mood was
improved and she was sleeping better.
December 28, 2011, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Nguyen for a
medication follow up appointment. (Tr. 345-346). Plaintiff
reported her anxiety had been stable on Ativan. After
examining Plaintiff, Dr. Nguyen assessed Plaintiff with
anxiety. Plaintiff was noted to have ...