United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
E. FORD, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Shirley Corbitt, brings this action under 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), seeking judicial review of a decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security Administration (Commissioner)
denying her claim for supplemental security income
(“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security
Act (hereinafter “the Act”), 42 U.S.C. §
1382. In this judicial review, the court must determine
whether there is substantial evidence in the administrative
record to support the Commissioner's decision. 42 U.S.C.
filed her application for SSI on May 12, 2016, due to
depression, anxiety, lymphedema, social anxiety, and
melanoma. (ECF No. 11, pp. 16, 192, 210). Plaintiff alleged
an onset date of January 1, 2007. (Id.). Her claim
was denied initially on October 26, 2015, and upon
reconsideration on January 14, 2016. (Id., pp. 16,
123-126, 135-37). An administrative hearing was held on April
21, 2017, in Fort Smith, Arkansas, before the Hon. Clifford
Shilling, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”).
(Id., pp. 51-89). Plaintiff was present and
represented by counsel, Michael Hamby, at the hearing.
(Id.). Kola Brown, a vocational expert, also
testified at the hearing. (Id.).
written decision dated September 28, 2017, the ALJ found
Plaintiff's malignant neoplasm of the skin, lymphedema,
affective disorders, organic mental disorders, anxiety
disorders, and substance addiction disorders to be severe,
but that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or equal
the level of severity of any impairment listed in the Listing
of Impairments. (Id., pp. 18-20). The ALJ found that
Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity
[P]erform light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except
as follows: The claimant can lift and/or carry twenty pounds
occasionally and ten pounds frequently and push and/or pull
within the limits of lifting and carrying. She can stand
and/or walk for six hours in an eight-hour workday and sit
for a total of six hours in an eight-hour workday. The
claimant can perform work where interpersonal contact is
incidental to the work performed, the complexity of tasks is
learned and performed by rote with few variables, and little
judgment is required. Supervision is simple, direct, and
concrete. The claimant needs a handheld device for prolonged
ambulation. (Id., p. 20).
the assistance of a vocational expert (“VE”), the
ALJ then determined that while Plaintiff had no past relevant
work, she could perform the requirements of the
representative occupations of: Poultry Dresser (DOT No.
525.687-070), 10, 000 jobs in the national economy; Router
(DOT No. 222.587-038), with 50, 000 jobs in the national
economy; or, Merchandise Marker (DOT No. 209.587-034), with
200, 000 jobs in the national economy. (Id., p.
24-25). The ALJ found Plaintiff had not been disabled under
the definition of the Act from May 12, 2016, through the date
of his decision. (Id., p. 25).
20, 2018, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request
for review. (Id., pp. 6-10). Plaintiff then filed
this action on July 16, 2018. (ECF No. 1). This matter is
before the undersigned for report and recommendation. Both
parties have filed appeal briefs. (ECF Nos. 14, 15). The case
is ready for decision.
undersigned has conducted a thorough review of the entire
record in this case. The complete sets of facts and arguments
are presented in the parties' briefs and are repeated
here only to the extent necessary.
administrative hearing held on April 21, 2017, Plaintiff
testified that she made it to the ninth grade in school, and
later earned a GED. (ECF No. 11, pp. 56). In addition to the
impairments listed in her application, she also had to have a
hysterectomy for a tumor the size of a softball, a complete
thyroidectomy, and knee surgery which caused the lymphedema.
(Id., p. 57). She experienced daily pain of about a
seven out of ten in her thigh, knees, shoulders, and hands.
(Id., pp. 57-58). She took hydrocodone for her pain
on an as needed basis, which would be about three times
daily. (Id.). The hydrocodone helped her pain but
did not help the burning sensation, and there was nothing
else that relieved her pain. (Id.). She used a cane
six out of seven days if she left the house, and the cane had
been prescribed by a doctor. (Id., pp. 59-60).
testified she made F's and D's in school, that her
difficulty learning was part of why she dropped out of
school, and that it took a couple of times trying to complete
her GED. (Id., p. 60). Her last work had been as a
personal care aide. She said that job ended in November 2006
when she had some medical testing done and they started
finding cancer in her body. (Id., pp. 62-63).
had an oophorectomy previously in 2002, but they found a
tumor the size of a softball which required a complete
hysterectomy and the implantation of a bladder sleeve.
(Id., p. 63). She was experiencing difficulties with
the bladder sleeve and was in the process of getting a
corrective surgery scheduled; she was experiencing daily
incontinence. (Id., p. 64). Her doctors discovered
she also had thyroid cancer, and in the course of performing
a complete thyroidectomy damaged her parathyroid.
(Id., p. 65). Plaintiff testified her lingering
effects included vitamin D and calcium deficiencies, and her
thyroid medication had to be closely managed or she would
start losing weight, feeling sick, and losing her hair.
also had malignant melanoma on her right leg, which had
required the removal of lymph nodes near her groin, and this
caused her lymphedema. (Id., pp. 65-66). The
lymphedema was constant in her right upper leg, but it would
move down her leg and up into her arm and fingers.
(Id.). The lymphedema was severe enough to spread
into her fingers on average a couple times per month, and
when she had flare-ups, she would have to stay in bed propped
up, take hot baths to soak her leg, take her water pills, and
wear prescription support hose. (Id., pp. 66-67,
68). Plaintiff had swelling in her leg and foot at least a
couple days each week, but it was very variable and
unpredictable, and it seemed to be worsened by sitting too
long, standing too long, or riding in a vehicle.
(Id., p. 67).
described having arthritis in her left shoulder and arm, as
well as pins in her left elbow, but that the arthritis on her
right side was more painful. (Id., 68-69). She said
her ability to use her left arm was limited, for example, she
would struggle to pick up and pour a gallon of milk and would
be shaky if she attempted to do so. (Id., p. 69).
also said she had a torn meniscus in her left knee, which was
painful like her arthritis, and she was seeking treatment but
had not yet had any injections or surgeries. (Id.,
pp. 71-72). Plaintiff testified that she also had chronic
back pain, but she was focused on trying to improve her knee
at that time. (Id., p. 73). Plaintiff reported
difficulty walking and a history of falling at least once a
month; she said she had fallen twice that month and got hurt
each time. (Id., pp. 78-79).
claimed she could walk for only five to ten minutes before
having to stop and catch her breath. (Id., p. 76).
She reported going up stairs was very laborious, even when
using her cane, so she avoided them. (Id.). Sitting
down was also difficult due to her lymphedema and required
her to elevate her leg, and she did not drive because it hurt
her foot and leg. (Id., pp. 76- 77, 78). She was
able to use a riding lawn mower to mow her lawn at times, but