United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Sue Cone, (“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”) and Supplemental Security
Income (“SSI”) under Title II and XVI of the Act.
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. 11. 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 and SSI on
September 23, 2015. (Tr. 54). In these applications,
Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to fatigue, body aches
all over, inability to sleep, removal of cysts, and
dizziness. (Tr. 243). These applications were denied
initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 54).
Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing,
and that hearing request was granted. (Tr. 161-165).
administrative hearing was held on May 22, 2017. (Tr. 65-89).
At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by
counsel, Michael Angel. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational
Expert (“VE”) Donald Rue testified at the
hearing. Id. At the time of the hearing, Plaintiff
was fifty-nine (59) years old and had a fifth grade
education. (Tr. 68-69).
the hearing, on May 25, 2017, the ALJ entered an unfavorable
decision denying Plaintiff's applications for DIB and
SSI. (Tr. 54-60). In this decision, the ALJ found the
Plaintiff had last met the insured status requirements of the
Act through December 31, 2019. (Tr. 56, Finding 1). The ALJ
also found Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful
Activity (“SGA”) since her alleged onset date of
May 1, 2014. (Tr. 56, Finding 2).
determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease and C5 osteophyte were severe
impairments. (Tr. 56, 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. 57, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 57-59, 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 for the full range of medium work.
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 59, Finding 6). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff was capable of performing her PRW as a kitchen
helper. 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 May 1, 2014
through the date of the decision. (Tr. 59, Finding 7).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's decision. (Tr. 212-215). The Appeals Council denied
this request for review. (Tr. 1-7). On May 8, 2018, Plaintiff
filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed
appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 20, 22. This case is now ready for
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. ...