United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
PAMELA S. MONROE PLAINTIFF
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
HONORABLE MARK E. FORD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Pamela S. Monroe, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) seeking judicial review of a decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security Administration (the
“Commissioner”) denying her claim for a period of
disability, disability insurance benefits (“DIB”)
and supplemental security income (“SSI”) under
the provisions of Titles II and XVI of the Social Security
Act (the “Act”). 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. § 405(g).
filed her applications for SSI and DIB on March 6, 2017, due
to bilateral rotator cuff syndrome, right knee, anxiety,
weakness in legs and arms, balance issues, and multiple
sclerosis. (ECF No. 12, pp. 20, 197, 204, 243). Plaintiff
alleged an onset date of February 28, 2017. (Id.).
Her claims were denied initially on June 5, 2017, and upon
reconsideration on July 25, 2017. (Id., pp. 20, 130,
133, 139, 141). An administrative hearing was held on April
3, 2018, before the Hon. Edward M. Starr, Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”). (Id., pp. 36-72).
Plaintiff appeared in person and was represented by counsel,
Matthew J. Ketcham. (Id.). A vocational expert, Jim
Spragins, also testified at the hearing. (Id.).
written decision dated May 31, 2018, the ALJ found
Plaintiff's respiratory disorder, peripheral neuropathy,
and cervical spine disorder to be severe, but found that
these impairments did not meet or equal the level of severity
of any impairment listed in the Listing of Impairments.
(Id., pp. 17, 22-24). The ALJ found that Plaintiff
retained the residual functional capacity (“RFC”)
[P]erform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and
416.967(a) except frequently reach overhead bilaterally,
climb, balance, crawl, bend, stoop, and crouch, and; must
avoid concentrated exposure to pulmonary irritants such as
dusts, odors, and gases. (Id., pp. 24-29).
the assistance of a vocational expert (“VE”), the
ALJ then determined Plaintiff would be able to perform her
past relevant work as a legal secretary (DOT No. 201.362-10)
as generally performed. (Id., p. 29). The ALJ found
Plaintiff had not been disabled under the definition of the
Act from February 28, 2017 through the date of his decision.
August 6, 2018, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review. (Id., pp. 5-7). Plaintiff then
filed this action on September 18, 2018. (ECF No. 1). This
matter is before the undersigned for report and
recommendation. Both parties have filed appeal briefs. (ECF
Nos. 15, 16). 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.
completed a work history report on April 13, 2017. (ECF No.
12, pp. 255-262). Plaintiff described the work she performed
at the job in question as: “I was a paralegal, I typed
legal docs, prepared reports and briefs, indices; pleading,
interrogatories and requests for production.”
(Id., p. 257). Plaintiff indicated that she
occasionally handled boxes with files, “perhaps weekly,
bi-weekly, or monthly.” (Id.). She indicated
the heaviest weight she lifted was 20 pounds, and the
heaviest weight frequently lifted was less than 10 pounds.
(Id.). She indicated she worked eight hours per day;
walked one hour; sat six hours; reached two hours; stood one
hour; stooped half an hour; kneeled half an hour; and,
crouched for .2 hours per day. (Id.). Plaintiff
indicated she did not crawl, or handle, grab or grasp big
objects, nor supervise other people at this job.
7, 2017, Plaintiff completed another work history report.
(Id., pp. 279-287). Plaintiff repeated the job
description as previously reported on April 13, 2017, but she
added faxing, phones, copying, e-filing, mailing, and going
to the courthouse to her job duties. (Id., p. 281).
Plaintiff indicated she walked one hour; stood one hour; sat
four hours; kneeled half an hour; crouched half an hour;
reached one hour; and, typed or handled small objects for
seven hours per day. (Id.). Plaintiff reported she
sometimes had to lift file boxes, that the heaviest weight
lifted was 20 pounds, and the heaviest weight frequently
lifted was 10 pounds. (Id.).
administrative hearing held on April 3, 2018, Plaintiff
testified that she was then working five hours a day, five
days a week as a legal assistant for a local attorney.
(Id., p. 43). She spent most of her time at a
computer station or typewriter. (Id.). She had to
quit her previous job at Dillard's due to inability to be
around fragrances, and then problems with walking for long
distances or standing for long periods of time.
(Id., pp. 46-48). She testified that Dillard's
attempted to accommodate her by transferring her from the
fragrance department to the ladies' ready to wear
department and changing her work to part time, but she was
unable to work in that department due to her legs.
(Id., pp. 47-48). Plaintiff said her current
employer was aware of her conditions and was understanding of
her need to come in late or leave early sometimes.
(Id., p. 49). Plaintiff testified that she did not
take a lunch break, but she would take a break from work and
just look out the window or go in and sit with her boss a
couple times per day. (Id., pp. 64-65).
testified she experienced pain between her shoulder blades
that went down to her elbows when she sat at the computer.
(Id., p. 58). She stated the only household chore
she was able to perform was a load of laundry once a week,
but she was unable to do ...