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Fuller v. Berryhill

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

March 21, 2019

NANCY A. BERRYHILL DEFENDANT Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration



         Roxie A. Fuller (“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 applications for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”), and a period of disability under Titles II and XVI of the Act.

         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. 7.[1] Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.

         1. Background:

         Plaintiff protectively filed her disability applications on April 29, 2016. (Tr. 15). In these applications, Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to a herniated disc, arm problems, pelvic problems, and anxiety. (Tr. 251). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of April 9, 2013. (Tr. 15). Her applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 75-150).

         After Plaintiff's applications were denied, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on these applications, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 30-70). Thereafter, on October 5, 2017, the SSA held an administrative hearing on Plaintiff's applications in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by Matthew Ketcham. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert (“VE”) Barbara Hubbard testified at this hearing. Id.

         On December 29, 2017, after the administrative hearing, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's applications. (Tr. 12-29). The ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through March 31, 2018. (Tr. 17, Finding 1). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since April 9, 2013, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 17, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: osteoarthritis of the left shoulder, chronic lower back pain syndrome, anxiety, and depression. (Tr. 17, Finding 3). Despite being severe, the ALJ 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. 18-19, Finding 4).

         The ALJ determined Plaintiff had a limited education but was able to communicate in English. (Tr. 21, Finding 8). The ALJ determined Plaintiff was thirty-eight (38) years old, which is defined as a “younger individual” under 20 C.F.R. § 416.963(c) (SSI) and 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(c) (DIB). (Tr. 21, Finding 7).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 19-20, Finding 5). Specifically, the ALJ found Plaintiff retained 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 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except limited to jobs with simple tasks, simple instructions, and incidental contact with the public, and involve only occasional overhead lifting.


         The ALJ determined Plaintiff was unable to perform any of her Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 20, Finding 6). The ALJ, however, found Plaintiff did retain the capacity to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 21-22, Finding 10). In making this determination, the ALJ relied upon the testimony of the VE. Id. Based upon this testimony, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform work as a price marking clerk with 304, 000 such jobs nationally; routing clerk with 53, 400 such jobs nationally; and photocopy machine operator with 15, 600 such jobs nationally. (Tr. 21). Because Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform this other work, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined by the Act, from April 9, 2013 through the date of his decision or through January 4, 2018. (Tr. 22, Finding 11).

         Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the ALJ unfavorable disability determination. On July 9, 2018, the Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's disability determination. (Tr. 1-6). On September 5, 2018, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court on September 10, 2018. ECF No. 7. This case is now ready for decision.

         2.Applicable ...

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