United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Rae Bearden, (“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
Income 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. 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 application for DIB on September 2,
2015. (Tr. 12). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due heart condition, bipolar disorder, high blood
pressure, thyroid, and depression. (Tr. 175). This
application was denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 12). Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an
administrative hearing, and that hearing request was granted.
administrative hearing was held on March 7, 2017. (Tr.
36-58). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was
represented by counsel, Matthew Golden. 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
ninth grade education. (Tr. 39).
the hearing, on July 31, 2017, the ALJ entered an unfavorable
decision denying Plaintiff's application for DIB. (Tr.
12-23). In this decision, the ALJ found the Plaintiff had
last met the insured status requirements of the Act on June
30, 2017. (Tr. 15, Finding 1). The ALJ also found Plaintiff
had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) from her onset date of February 1, 2015
through her last date insured of June 30, 2017. (Tr. 15,
determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
mild obstructive sleep apnea; hypertension; cardiac
hypokinesis with mildly reduced left ventricular function;
hiatal hernia; small non-transmural myocardial infarction;
hypothyroidism; mild intellectual disorder; depressive
disorder; and panic disorder. (Tr. 15, 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. 15, Finding
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 18-22, 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 light work, except
could tolerate occasional exposure to concentrated levels of
heat and humidity as well as fumes, gases, dust and other
respiratory irritants; understand, remember and carry out
short, simple instructions; perform simple, routine tasks
with no fast paced high quota production work; make only
simple work related decisions; adapt to few if any workplace
changes, and tolerate only occasional interaction with
co-workers, supervisors and the general public. Id.
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 22, Finding 6). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff was not capable of performing any of her PRW.
Id. The ALJ, however, also determined there was
other work existing in significant numbers in the national
economy Plaintiff could perform. (Tr. 22, Finding 10). The
ALJ based this 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 representative
occupations such as price marker with approximately 344, 400
such jobs in the nation, cafeteria attendant with
approximately 59, 990 such jobs in the nation, and shelving
clerk with approximately 16, 150 such jobs in the nation.
Id. Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined in the
Act, from her onset date of February 1, 2015 through her last
date insured of June 30, 2017. (Tr. 23, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's decision. (Tr. 144-146). The Appeals Council denied
this request for review. (Tr. 1-6). On April 4, 2018,
Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties
have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 20, 21. 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. ...