United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Lynn Harper (“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”) and a period of
disability under Title II of the Act.
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. The Court, having reviewed the entire
transcript and relevant briefing, recommends the ALJ's
determination be AFFIRMED.
protectively filed her DIB application on April 26, 2016.
(Tr. 16). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due to PTSD, herniated disc in back, sciatic nerve
damage, scoliosis, neck and shoulder nerve damage, arthritis,
asthma, severe anxiety, severe depression, and OCD. (Tr.
244). Plaintiff alleges an onset date of April 10, 2016. (Tr.
16). This application was denied initially and again upon
requested an administrative hearing on December 13, 2016.
(Tr. 140-141). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was
held on June 22, 2017. (Tr. 32-69). At this hearing,
Plaintiff was present and was represented by Laura McKinnon.
Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Montie Lumpkin testified at this hearing.
Id. At this hearing, Plaintiff was thirty-nine (39)
years old and had a tenth grade education. (Tr. 37).
September 28, 2017, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff's application. (Tr. 16-25). In this
decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status of
the Act through September 30, 2016. (Tr. 18, Finding 1). The
ALJ also found Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity from April 10, 2016 through her date last
insured. (Tr. 18, Finding 2).
next found Plaintiff had severe impairments that included
spinal disorders, asthma, migraine headaches, obesity,
affective disorders, and anxiety disorders. (Tr. 19, 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.
19, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 20-23, 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 can
occasionally stoop and crouch; must avoid even moderate
exposure to fumes, odors, dust, gases, and poorly ventilated
areas; can perform work where interpersonal contact is
incidental to the work performed; complexity of tasks is
performed by rote with few variables and little judgment; and
supervision is simple, direct, and concrete. Id.
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 23, Finding 6). The ALJ found
Plaintiff was unable to perform any PRW. Id. The
ALJ, however, also determined there was other work existing
in significant numbers in the national economy Plaintiff
could perform. (Tr. 24, Finding 10). The ALJ based his
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 a representative occupation
such as a can filing and closing machine tender with
approximately 24, 980 such jobs in the nation, power
screwdriver operator with approximately 50, 841 such jobs in
the nation, and collator operator with approximately 13, 458
such jobs in the nation. Id. Based upon this
finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a
disability as defined by the Act from April 10, 2016, through
September 30, 2016, the date last insured. (Tr. 25, Finding
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's unfavorable decision. (Tr. 190). On May 16, 2018,
the Appeals Council denied this request for review. (Tr.
1-7). On July 11, 2018, Plaintiff filed the present appeal.
ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos.
13, 17. This case is now ready for decision.
reviewing this case, this Court is required to determine
whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by
substantial evidence on the record as a whole. See
42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2010); Ramirez v. Barnhart,
292 F.3d 576, 583 (8th Cir. 2002). Substantial evidence is
less than a preponderance of the evidence, but it is enough
that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the
Commissioner's decision. See Johnson v. Apfel,
240 F.3d 1145, 1147 (8th Cir. 2001). As long as there is
substantial evidence in the record that supports the
Commissioner's decision, the Court may not reverse it
simply because substantial evidence exists in the record that
would have supported a contrary outcome or because the Court
would have decided the case differently. See
Haley v. Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747 (8th Cir.
2001). If, after reviewing the record, it is possible to draw
two inconsistent positions from the evidence and one of those
positions represents the findings of the ALJ, the decision of
the ALJ must be affirmed. See Young v. Apfel, 221
F.3d 1065, 1068 (8th Cir. 2000).
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. §§