United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Tatum (“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
to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and (3)
(2009), the Honorable Susan O. Hickey referred this case to
this Court for the purpose of making a report and
recommendation. In accordance with that referral, and after
reviewing the arguments in this case, this Court recommends
Plaintiff's case be REVERSED AND
protectively filed her disability application on March 11,
2014. (Tr. 25). Plaintiff alleges being disabled due to
gastroparesis, chronic arthritis, degenerative disc disease,
altered mental status, depression, and bipolar. (Tr. 249).
This application was denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 25).
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on her
application, and this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 163).
Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held on October
18, 2016. (Tr. 69-88). At this hearing, Plaintiff was present
and was represented by counsel, Jesse Kearney. Id.
Plaintiff testified at this hearing that she was forty (40)
years old. (Tr. 72). As for education, Plaintiff testified
she had graduated from high school and completed two years of
college. (Tr. 73).
December 21, 2016, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff's application for disability. (Tr.
25-39). In this decision, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the
insured status of the Act through December 31, 2018. (Tr. 27,
Finding1). The ALJ also found Plaintiff had not engaged in
Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since
October 31, 2013, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 27, Finding
determined Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease, gastroparesis, and obesity. (Tr.
27, Finding 3). The ALJ then determined Plaintiff's
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.
33, Finding 4).
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined her RFC. (Tr. 33-38). 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 perform the full range of sedentary work.
then evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 38, 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. 38, Finding 10). Based upon
this finding, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under
a disability, as defined in the Act, from October 31, 2013,
through the date of the decision. (Tr. 39, Finding 11).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's unfavorable decision. (Tr. 328-329). On August 14,
2018, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review of the ALJ's decision. (Tr. 1-7). On October 12,
2018, Plaintiff filed the present appeal. ECF No. 1. Both
Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 15, 18. 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) (2010); 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 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. §§