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Hosey v. Saul

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

August 26, 2019

JENNIFER HOSEY PLAINTIFF
v.
ANDREW SAUL[1], Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Sandra Lamberton, 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 a period of disability and disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act (hereinafter “the Act”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A).

         The 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. 7. Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.

         1. Background:

         Plaintiff protectively filed her application for DIB on July 19, 2012. (Tr. 138, 277)[2]. In her application, Plaintiff alleged being disabled due to carpal tunnel syndrome and cervical disc degenerative [sic] with an alleged onset date of July 19, 2012. (Tr. 36, 138, 327). These applications were denied initially and again upon reconsideration. (Tr. 138). Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing and that administrative hearing was held on November 13, 2013. (Tr. 83-120). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by attorney Greg Giles. (Tr.83). Plaintiff and a Vocational Expert (“VE”) testified at the hearing. (Tr. 83-120).

         Following the hearing, on October 17, 2014, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision. (Tr. 134-57). The ALJ found Plaintiff had last met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2017. (Tr. 141, Finding 1). The ALJ also found Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since her alleged onset date. (Tr. 141, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: disorders of the back, carpal tunnel, and obesity. (Tr. 141, 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 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (“Listings:”). (Tr. 141-43, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 143-50, 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:

[P]erform light work. She can sit, stand that [sic], and/or walk for about six hours in an eight-hour workday. She should not do hand controls, but is not limited in pushing or pulling with her lower extremities. She should not climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds more than occasionally, but is not limited in doing all other postural activities. She is not limited in reaching in any direction and in gross manipulation such as handling, but is limited in fingering and should not do fine manipulation. She has no visual, communicative, or environmental limitations. Id.

         The ALJ then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work (“PRW”). (Tr. 151-52, Finding 6). The ALJ determined Plaintiff was capable of performing her past relevant work as a housekeeper, DOT code 323.687-014. Id. The ALJ based this determination upon the testimony of the VE. Id. The ALJ found that, in the alternative, there were jobs in the significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform. (Tr. 152-53, Finding 10). The ALJ found Plaintiff could perform the representative occupations of: sales attendant with approximately 40, 000 jobs in the nation, laundry folder with approximately 22, 000 jobs in the nation, or a furniture retail clerk with approximately 15, 000 jobs in the nation. (Tr. 153). Based upon this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined in the Act, from her onset date of July 19, 2012, through the date of his decision. (Tr. 153, Finding 11).

         Thereafter, Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the ALJ's decision. (Tr. 219). On January 27, 2016, the Appeals Council granted Plaintiff's request for review and remanded the case. (Tr. 160-162). They found that the ALJ erred on three points: 1) Plaintiff's RFC was more restrictive than the hypothetical posed to the vocational expert, compromising the applicability of the vocational expert's testimony evidence; 2) The ALJ did not adequately address Plaintiff's shoulder impairment at step two or in the RFC, further analysis was found to be warranted; 3) The ALJ did not adequately evaluate the credibility of Plaintiff's allegations, including her alleged inability to sit for more than three hours or stand and walk for one hour. (Tr. 160-61). The Appeals Council ordered that upon remand the ALJ would: 1) Give further consideration to the nature and severity of Plaintiff's alleged conditions, including whether they were medically determinable and whether they were severe; 2) Further evaluate Plaintiff's subjective complaints and provide rationale in accordance with the disability regulations; 3) Give further consideration to Plaintiff's maximum RFC and provide rationale with specific references to evidence of record in support of the assessed limitations; and, 4) If warranted, obtain supplemental evidence from a vocational expert. (Tr. 161).

         A second administrative hearing was held on July 17, 2017. (Tr. 53-81). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present and was represented by attorney Greg Giles. (Tr. 53). Plaintiff and a Vocational Expert (“VE”) testified at the hearing. (Tr. 53-81).

         Following the hearing, on August 30, 2017, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision. (Tr. 33-52). The ALJ found Plaintiff had last met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2017. (Tr. 38, Finding 1). The ALJ also found Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since her alleged onset date. (Tr. 38, Finding 2). The ALJ determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative disease of the right shoulder and cervical spine, with arm pain; bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome; diabetes mellitus; and obesity. (Tr. 38-39, 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 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (“Listings:”). (Tr. 39, Finding 4).

         In this decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 39-44, 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:

[P]erform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.157(b). Specifically, the claimant can lift and carry, push and pull, up to 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. The claimant can stand and/or walk, and sit for six hours in an eight-hour workday. The claimant can frequently climb, but never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. The claimant can occasionally reach overhead, and can otherwise frequently perform ...

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