United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Widener, (“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
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of 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. 8. 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 on October 6,
2015. (Tr. 11). In this application, Plaintiff alleges being
disabled due to COPD, asthma, gout, chronic pain,
fybromyalgia, Nissen fundoplication surgery, PTSD,
depression, chronic anxiety, and social disorder. (Tr. 372).
Plaintiff alleges an onset date of June 9, 2015. (Tr. 11).
Her application was denied initially and again upon
requested an administrative hearing on her denied
application. (Tr. 278). This hearing request was granted and
Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on August 29,
2017. (Tr. 140-189). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present
and was represented by counsel, Shannon Muse Carroll.
Id. Plaintiff and Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Myrtle Johnson testified at the hearing.
Id. At the time of the hearing, Plaintiff was
forty-two (42) years old and had graduated high school. (Tr.
the hearing, on March 21, 2018, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application for
DIB. (Tr. 11-33). In this decision, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act
through March 31, 2019. (Tr. 13, Finding 1). The ALJ also
determined Plaintiff had not engaged in Substantial Gainful
Activity (“SGA”) since June 9, 2015. (Tr. 13,
found Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, fibromyalgia,
gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) with history of Nissan
fundoplication therapy, post-traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD), depression, chronic anxiety. (Tr. 11-12, 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. 17, Finding
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 19-31, 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 a restricted range of light
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 31, Finding 6). The ALJ determined
Plaintiff was not capable of performing her PRW. Id.
The ALJ, however, also determined there was other work
existing in significant numbers in the national economy
Plaintiff could perform. (Tr. 32, Finding 10). The ALJ based
this 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 representative occupations
such as cleaner/housekeeping with approximately 133, 000 such
jobs in the nation, and price tagger with approximately 285,
000 such jobs in the nation. Id. Based upon this
finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a
disability, as defined in the Act, from June 9, 2015 through
the date of the decision. (Tr. 33, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's decision. (335). The Appeals Council denied this
request for review. (Tr. 1-7). On October 4, 2018, Plaintiff
filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both Parties have filed
appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 17, 20. 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. ...