United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Leann Packer (âPlaintiffâ) brings this action pursuant to Â§
205(g) of Title II of the Social Security Act (âThe Actâ), 42
U.S.C. Â§ 405(g) (2006), seeking judicial review of a final
decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (âSSAâ) denying her applications for
Disability Insurance Benefits (âDIBâ) and Supplemental
Security Income (âSSIâ) under Titles II and XVI of the Act.
to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and (3)
(2005), the Honorable P. K. Holmes, III referred this case to
the undersigned 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.
application for DIB and SSI were filed on April 25, 2016.
(Tr. 15). Plaintiff alleged she was disabled due to
hyperacusis. (Tr. 206). Plaintiff alleged an onset date of
June 1, 2005. (Tr. 188). These applications were denied
initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 15).
Thereafter, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on
her applications and this hearing request was granted. (Tr.
had an administrative hearing on May 17, 2017. (Tr. 35-59).
Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel, Michael
Hamby, at this hearing. Id. Plaintiff and Vocational
Expert (“VE”) Barbara Hubbard testified at this
hearing. Id. At the time of this hearing, Plaintiff
was twenty-seven (27) years old and obtained a GED with some
college. (Tr. 41).
March 12, 2018, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff's application for DIB and SSI. (Tr.
15-28). In this decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had
not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since the alleged onset date of June 1,
2005. (Tr. 17, Finding 2). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff
had the severe impairments of hyperacusis, chronic low back
pain syndrome, chronic neck pain, bipolar disorder,
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety. (Tr. 17,
Finding 3). The ALJ then determined Plaintiff's
impairments did not meet or medically equal the requirements
of any of the Listing of Impairments in Appendix 1 to Subpart
P of Regulations No. 4 (“Listings”). (Tr. 18,
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 19-26). First, the
ALJ indicated he evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and found her claimed limitations were not
entirely credible. Id. The ALJ also found Plaintiff
retained the RFC to perform light work limited to work
involving simple tasks, simple instructions, incidental
contact with the public, and no exposure to loud noises. (Tr.
19, Finding 5).
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 26, Finding 6). The ALJ found
Plaintiff had no PRW. Id. The ALJ, however, also
determined there was other work existing in significant
numbers in the national economy Plaintiff could perform. (Tr.
26, 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 such jobs in the nation, routing clerk with
500 such jobs in Arkansas and 53, 400 such jobs in the
nation, and hotel housekeeper with 1, 100 such jobs in
Arkansas and 134, 000 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 June 1,
2005. (Tr. 27, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested that the Appeals Council review the
ALJ's unfavorable decision. (Tr. 181-182). See
20 C.F.R. § 404.968. On August 9, 2018, the Appeals
Council declined to review this unfavorable decision. (Tr.
1-6). On September 14, 2018, Plaintiff filed the present
appeal. ECF No. 1. Both parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF
Nos. 14, 15. 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) (2006); 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 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. ...